‘Seinfeld’ Star Michael Richards Says ‘I’m Not Racist’ or ‘Looking for a Comeback,’ Nearly 18 Years After Racist Outburst: ‘I Have Nothing Against Black People’

“Seinfeld” fans got a shock last month when Michael Richards made a public appearance at the Hollywood premiere for Jerry Seinfeld’s Netflix movie “Unfrosted.” It was one of the rare times Richards has showed up on a major red carpet in nearly 18 years, as his career more or less ended in 2006 after he was recorded hurling the N-word and other racial insults at a group of hecklers during an infamous outburst while onstage at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles.

Richards, who played Kramer on “Seinfeld” for nearly a decade and won three Emmys for his performance, is now returning to the spotlight due to the upcoming release of his memoir, “Entrances and Exits.” He recently told People magazine that “I’m not looking for a comeback” and stressed that he was “immediately sorry the moment” he said racial slurs onstage in November 2006.

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“I’m not racist,” Richard said when discussing the racial slurs he used that night. “I have nothing against Black people. The man who told me I wasn’t funny had just said what I’d been saying to myself for a while. I felt put down. I wanted to put him down.”

“My anger was all over the place and it came through hard and fast,” Richards added. “Anger is quite a force. But it happened. Rather than run from it, I dove into the deep end and tried to learn from it. It hasn’t been easy. Crisis managers wanted me to do damage control. But as far as I was concerned, the damage was inside of me.”

Richards said he has spent the near two-decades since the meltdown doing “deep analysis” on himself because “it was time to figure out where all the anger was coming from.” He found the answer to be his own insecurities over not being wanted, which is why he turned down career opportunities during his heyday and never found the value in playing Kramer despite the enormous and award-winning success of “Seinfeld.”

“I said no to the offer of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I didn’t feel deserving,” Richards said. “I said no to hosting ‘Saturday Night Live’ twice because I didn’t feel good enough. I was never really satisfied with my ‘Seinfeld’ performance. Fame magnified my insecurities.”

In the aftermath of the 2006 incident, Richards retreated from the spotlight and acting opportunities dried up. He had a voice role in Seinfeld’s 2007 animated film “Bee Movie,” and his only other feature film role since then was 2019’s “Faith, Hope & Love.” Most of his television appearances were in connection to his “Seinfeld” roots, as he played a fictional version of himself on three episodes of Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in 2009 and appeared in 2012 episodes of Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” He had a supporting role on Kirstie Alley’s TV Land sitcom “Kirstie,” but the series got canceled after one season in 2014.

Richards’ memoir, “Entrances and Exits,” publishes June 4 from Permuted Press.

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