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Jason Alexander Recalls William Shatner's Profound Advice On Handling Seinfeld's Success

When it comes to actors suddenly experiencing a high level of success, it's one thing to be part of a hit TV series, but being in the cast of arguably the most iconic sitcom in history is something completely different. That is exactly what Jason Alexander got to experience very early on in his career, as he played George Costanza on NBC's "Seinfeld." This level of sudden success may have come too early for him to handle if he had not gotten some sound advice from one of his childhood heroes.

"Seinfeld" wasn't the first gig Alexander got fan recognition for. He explained on the "Adam Carolla Show" podcast that initial public attention came from his role as Philip Stuckey in the 1990 film "Pretty Woman." However, that kind of recognition was the type most performers would prefer to avoid. Alexander's character in the film was, to put it lightly, a jerk, and fans had no issues with telling him that. However, when "Seinfeld" came around, the negative fan attention changed to that of admiration.

When "Seinfeld" first aired in 1989, there was no way any of the cast and crew had an idea of how huge the series would become. Alexander played George, one of the four lead characters in the series that spanned nine seasons. He told Carolla on the podcast that he was turning 35 years old when the show was just becoming a huge hit. And if it wasn't for a very unique birthday present from his friends (and the advice that came with it), the way Alexander handled his success may have been very different.

Shatner told Alexander to embrace his fans

At the time "Seinfeld" was on the tips of just about every TV viewer's tongue, Jason Alexander had received a great birthday gift from his friends. Alexander told Adam Carolla that when he was growing up, "Star Trek" was his favorite show. "I wanted to be Kirk, I wanted to be a captain of the Enterprise," he admitted. With Alexander's friends knowing this, they decided to pay William Shatner some dough to spend a little time with him for his 35th birthday. And it was during this meeting that Shatner gave Alexander profound advice on how to handle his new success.

Shatner revealed to Alexander that when "Star Trek" started getting popular, he resented the job and as a result, all his fans as well. "People started coming up to him and he really didn't enjoy that. He admitted to being a bit of an a**," revealed Alexander. Shatner went on to explain how fans feel like they have a personal connection to his character, therefore they feel that same special link to the actor too. So, Shatner advised Alexander that he should embrace his fans instead of pushing them away. 

Since then, Alexander has spent his entire career being courteous to his fans, and they return the same level of respect. "It was great advice," he said. "And because of that, people come up and say, 'Hey, I was going through dark stuff, I lost a parent, I lost a child, I was sick ... you guys got me through it, you made me laugh and we are really grateful.'" And these pleasant interactions may never have happened without Shatner's advice. "It's a very nice way to go through life," added Alexander.