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Seinfeld Actor's Disturbing Behavior Had Him Fired: ‘He Was a Total Nutjob’

Seinfeld Actor's Disturbing Behavior Had Him Fired: ‘He Was a Total Nutjob’
Image credit: Legion-Media, NBC, Miramax Films

And then he almost got into a fight with Tarantino.

Summary:

  • Alton Benes, Elaine's father, was supposed to be a recurring character, but Lawrence Tierney's behavior was too disturbing and he only appeared in one episode.
  • Tierney had a reputation for being difficult to work with, and he almost got into a fight with Tarantino on the set of Reservoir Dogs.

On July 5, 1989, NBC aired the first episode of Seinfeld, the legendary sitcom that ran for nine years and had a profound impact on television. To cheer himself up during the filming of Schindler's List, Steven Spielberg himself watched it.

Over the course of nine years, a number of celebrities appeared on the show: Bryan Cranston and Bob Odenkirk from Breaking Bad, Courteney Cox (a month before she became Monica in Friends), Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei as herself. And Twin Peaks' Grace Zabriskie and Warren Frost played the oddly funny parents of Susan.

Elaine's father also appeared on Seinfeld – a stern, successful writer who does not need anyone to tell him it is going to rain (all he has to do is stick his head out the window).

Lawrence Tierney Terrified Seinfeld Cast With His Disturbing Behavior

Seinfeld Actor's Disturbing Behavior Had Him Fired: ‘He Was a Total Nutjob’ - image 1

Not many people know that Alton Benes was supposed to be a recurring character, but the behavior of the actor, Lawrence Tierney, scared everyone so much that he only appeared in the third episode of the second season.

Even before Seinfeld, Tierney had a reputation for being difficult to work with on set, in part because of his odd sense of humor.

During the filming of the sitcom, Lawrence stole a knife and hid it in his pocket, and when Jerry Seinfeld found out and asked him why he did it, Tierney replied that he was making a joke and wanted to reenact the scene from Psycho. The cast was terrified, but Alfred Hitchcock would probably be pleased.

In the biography of actor Lawrence Tierney: Hollywood's Real-Life Tough Guy by Burt Kearns, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who played Elaine, talked about working with him:

“He was a total nutjob [but] a wonderful actor because he was so amazing in that show. And it's too bad he was so cuckoo because I'm sure he would've been back otherwise.”

Tierney Was a Nightmare On Reservoir Dogs Set

Seinfeld Actor's Disturbing Behavior Had Him Fired: ‘He Was a Total Nutjob’ - image 2

The biggest scandal involving Tierney occurred on the set of Quentin Tarantino 's Reservoir Dogs, where the role of Joe Cabot was written specifically for the actor.

Tierney often forgot his lines, was rude to other actors, and once almost got into a fight with the director himself.

Source: Lawrence Tierney: Hollywood's Real-Life Tough Guy by Burt Kearns