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Why Judge Arthur Vandelay From Seinfeld Looks So Familiar

The"Seinfeld" finale gave the show's creators, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, a chance to bring back a host of characters from the hit show's nine-season run to testify in the criminal indifference trial of Jerry, George (Jason Alexander), Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and Kramer (Michael Richards). The double episode didn't land with many audience members, and in a 2017 interview at the New Yorker festival (via Vulture), Seinfeld told editor David Remnick that he still had significant regrets about the ambitious final episode nearly 25 years after it aired. 

"There was a lot of pressure on us at that time to do one big last show," Seinfeld remarked, "but big is always bad in comedy." For Seinfeld and David, "big" meant bringing back iconic characters from the show's nine seasons like Soup Nazi Yev Kassem (Larry Thomas), Elaine's former boss Justin Pitt (Ian Abercrombie), exiled Pakistani restaurant owner Babu Bhatt (Brian George), former New York Mets star first baseman Keith Hernandez (himself), Jerry's ex Sidra Holland (Teri Hatcher), chocolate babka theft victim Mabel Choate (Frances Bay), and New York Library cop Joe Bookman (Philip Baker Hall). 

But in casting one key role in the finale, Seinfeld and David reached outside the show's previous acting roster for another Hollywood veteran with a long list of credits and a familiar face. So just who did they enlist for the critical part of Judge Arthur Vandelay, who doled out the one-year jail sentence that ended the show?

Stanley Anderson was Michael Bay's go-to guy to play a fictional President

Stanley Anderson had a long and prolific Hollywood career that lasted more than five decades and ranged from sitcoms to white-knuckle dramas and everything in between. Michael Bay cast Anderson as the President of the United States in two films, "The Rock" and "Armageddon" (via IMDb). In the latter, Anderson's President makes the critical decision to allow the use of nuclear weapons to destroy an asteroid that is on a collision course with the earth. 

His quiet calm stands out in a movie that often seems frenzied and panicked, a vibe Bay apologized for in an interview with The Miami Herald (via Entertainment Weekly), saying, "we had to do the whole movie in 16 weeks. It was a massive undertaking. That was not fair to the movie. I would redo the entire third act if I could." Bay later backtracked, saying his comments were taken out of context. "I said, I wish we had a few more weeks in the edit room on Armageddon ... yes, I'm proud of the movie. Enough said." A post on the subreddit r/MovieDetails  by u/rjdelight uses Anderson's roles as the president in both films as an argument that they might exist in the same universe. In a comment, u/talones lamented, "Dang, so Stanley Goodspeed(Nicholas Cage) could've been in Armageddon?!" 

While the inclusion of Cage would have added to the tremendous star power already present in "Armageddon," Anderson remains the only such link between the two action films.

Anderson was often cast as an authority figure

Stanley Anderson made his acting debut on the NBC anthology series "Hollywood Opening Night" in 1952. but the tall and deep-voiced Montana native was often cast as someone in a position of authority other than the President, including as General Slocum in the 2002 "Spider-Man" movie and as Judge Walter McDonald on an episode of "Ally McBeal" the year before. He often played a member of the clergy, appearing as a priest in the 2002 rom-com "40 Days and 40 Nights" and as Father Ryan in two episodes of the musical dramedy "American Dreams." Anderson also played a minister on a single 1999 episode of the David Spade-led comedy "Just Shoot Me."

 His comfort in playing Judge Vandelay may have also come in part from his experience guest-starring on two episodes of "Law and Order." In Season 2, Episode 6, "Misconception," Anderson played defense attorney Jerry Manley, and in Season 13, Episode 17, "Genius" he was author Nelson Lambert.

Anderson played Drew's dad on the Drew Carey Show

Stanley Anderson's acting roles were by no means limited to men in official positions of power. He might be best known as Drew Carey's father George on "The Drew Carey Show, " on which he appeared 10 times throughout the show's nine-season run. George Carey was a Korean war vet who could be stern and stoic but was very open and affectionate with Drew and his friends. 

Anderson's last credited appearance came on a 2005 episode of "NYPD Blue." He died at age 78 in 2018, just six weeks after learning he had brain cancer (via The Hollywood Reporter). 

Upon his death, his family released a statement via the Cision PR newswire that read in part, "Stanley's professional acting career began with the Seattle Repertory Theatre, and continued with the Actor's Theatre of Louisville, and more than 20 years at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C ... Concurrent with his acting career, he was well-known behind the scenes for his three decades of voiceover work in ads for Democratic candidates and issues across the country. He was most proud, ultimately, of the part he played in politics."

Before and after appearing as Judge Arthur Vandelay on "Seinfeld," Anderson's stature and booming voice made him a presence to be reckoned with in roles both serious and comic.