Jerry Seinfeld is remembering his Seinfeld collaborator Jerry Stiller, who died earlier this week at the age of 92, as an unparalleled professional who never required notes on how best to capture the character of Frank Costanza.
"[Stiller] had the most amazing comedic stuff that he—we didn't know if he was planning it or it just came out that way, or he couldn't remember the line, or we didn't know what it was, but we did not want to disturb it in any way," Seinfeld said during a What a Joke with Papa and Fortune interview on SiriusXM Thursday, per the Hollywood Reporter. "We never gave Jerry Stiller a note. I never adjusted his performance once. Whatever he did, that's it. We're putting that out there."
As is famously known among Seinfeld heads, co-creator Larry David was keen on Stiller taking the part from the very beginning. Stiller, however, initially turned down the opportunity due to Broadway obligations and a general unawareness of the series itself. Then, when Stiller ultimately joined the team, he made an executive decision on how best to bring Frank from the page to the screen.
"I am such a dedicated believer in if it's funny, don't touch it," Seinfeld explained. "I don't care why it's funny. I don't care what the line was supposed to be. He said it that way, we're doing it that way." Stiller's crafting of Frank, Seinfeld added, "so completes" the story of George Costanza.
"I'm sad to say that my father, Jerry Stiller, passed away from natural causes," Jerry's son, Ben Stiller, announced on Monday on social media. "He was a great dad and grandfather, and the most dedicated husband to Anne for about 62 years. He will be greatly missed."
The 22nd anniversary of the Seinfeld series finale, featuring Stiller, hit on Thursday.