BackTalk: Michael Richards Page 2

All of his projects went awry - but with the best of intentions.That's what's so lovable about him. The way Kramer came through the door to Jerry's apartment is the way he came into life. For him, life happened within that apartment.

So how did you develop that entrance?It took about 13 shows to get there. I was told to play the character from the standpoint that he never leaves the apartment. He's afraid of the world. So that's where the clothes came from. I dressed that way because those were the clothes Kramer had from the '60s. That's why his pants are a bit short, because he's grown. I wasn't going for a retro look. I was trying to build a believable character.

Who were your inspirations?Jacques Tati, Stan Laurel, Charlie Chaplin, early Peter Sellers. Harpo Marx is absolutely hysterical to me - his body language.

And that is very physical comedy.Yes. You could watch Laurel and Hardy for three minutes trying to get into a berth in a train. And that's what made Lucille Ball so popular. She's always doing funny rather than saying funny. The shows today say funny, but I don't see anybody doing funny.

What's next for you?I'd like to do a comedy, but I wouldn't mind doing an hour show like Monk. I like eccentricity, I like offbeat characters. I don't know what my next TV romp will be, but I'm going to be back in there.

Al Bundy or Cosmo Kramer?[laughs] Hey, Ed [O'Neill] did a great job with that. I was very, very close to getting the part, but it wasn't meant to be. That was Ed's role, and he was wonderful. I could have played Al, but it would have been different. It's strange how parts come along, how life lives us, and what we get to do with the abilities that are given us.