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The Friends Star Who Auditioned For Kramer On Seinfeld

It's always an interesting factoid to come upon when you hear that an actor was almost cast in a role someone else has since made famous. Tom Cruise was offered the role of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before Robert Downey Jr. Bob Odenkirk almost played Michael Scott on "The Office." Jon Favreau turned down the role of Chandler on "Friends," which led to a struggle to cast the character (via Vulture).

Several actors were in the running for the main characters on "Seinfeld" as well — outside of Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld), of course. Megan Mullally was a frontrunner for Elaine before Julia Louis-Dreyfus came in and knocked everyone's socks off. Jason Alexander noted on "The Howard Stern Show" that Seinfeld's friends Chris Rock and Larry Miller were both in the running for George before he got it. Michael Richards says he knew he had the role of Kramer immediately, but another actor was being considered. A recurring "Friends" star auditioned for Kramer, but he couldn't beat out the magic that was evident in the chemistry between Seinfeld and Richards.

Friends star Larry Hankin auditioned to play Kramer

Larry Hankin auditioned alongside Michael Richards for the role of Kramer on "Seinfeld." After losing the part, he'd go on to appear on "Friends" for five episodes as Mr. Heckles — the disgruntled downstairs neighbor of Monica (Courteney Cox) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston). It might have been a short run, but Mr. Heckles is one of the most memorable secondary characters on "Friends," thanks to Hankin's stellar performance across three seasons.

When chatting with the "Beyond the Backlot" podcast, Hankin recalled his time auditioning for "Seinfeld." The actor noted he and Michael Richards were friends before the sitcom, as they always used to audition for the same parts. He also remembered Larry David telling him that he looked more like the real-life Kramer than Richards did. After losing out on the role, Hankin made sure to watch the series to see who got the part. He joked that he was annoyed it was his pal, who he was constantly up against but admitted the right person got the job. "They picked the right guy. When he comes through the door," Hankin said with a smile, highlighting Richards' tremendous physical comedy.

Larry Hankin eventually made it on Seinfeld

Larry Hankin might have lost out on the role of Kramer, but he would eventually appear on "Seinfeld" in a much smaller but ironic part. In "The Pilot" (Season 4, Episode 22 & 23), Hankin plays Tom Pepper, an actor auditioning to play Kramer on Jerry's new show for NBC. He gets the part — despite stealing some raisins from the audition room and angering George — and absolutely knocks it out of the park.

On the "Beyond the Backlot" podcast, Hankin revealed it was Michael Richards who suggested he appear for that one-off role in "The Pilot." He still had to go in and audition despite the recommendation. Hankin remembered the other people trying out for Tom Pepper (who was auditioning for Kramer) looked absolutely nothing like Jerry's wacky next-door neighbor. "I really had an attitude about that," Hankin remembered. He auditioned a surprising five times, always alongside people he felt looked totally wrong for the part. Hankin recalled repeatedly being asked to come in and out of the door by Larry David as he tried to imitate Kramer's iconic entrance. The part was eventually his, and one year later, he'd nab the Mr. Heckles role on "Friends."