‘Seinfeld’ actor reveals racist rant forced him to confront his insecurities

Michael Richards, known for portraying Cosmo Kramer, opens up about the racist rant that derailed his career.

Pop Culture & Art May 22, 2024

Michael Richards has largely avoided the public eye for 18 years, following a 2006 incident where he was filmed making racial slurs, including the N-word, towards hecklers during a stand-up set.

Last month, however, ‘Seinfeld’ fans were surprised to see Michael Richards, who played Cosmo Kramer on the sitcom from 1989-1998, at the premiere of Jerry Seinfeld’s new movie, ‘Unfrosted’.

Now Richards is making a tentative return with his memoir, ‘Entrances and Exits,’ out June 3 from Permuted Press. 

The book covers his childhood, rise to fame on Seinfeld, and the infamous night at the Laugh Factory that changed his career.

"I was immediately sorry the moment I said it onstage," Richards, 74, tells People Magazine. He understands that forgiveness may not be forthcoming. "I'm not looking for a comeback."

"My anger was all over the place and it came through hard and fast," he continues. "Rather than run from it, I dove into the deep end and tried to learn from it. It hasn’t been easy." 

Richards adds, "Crisis managers wanted me to do damage control. But as far as I was concerned, the damage was inside of me."

Richards says he has spent the past 17 years in "deep analysis." 

He needed to understand the source of his anger, which stemmed partly from his insecurities and feelings of not being wanted. 

Raised by a single mother who initially considered abortion, he struggled with these feelings throughout his life.

Reflecting on his fame as Cosmo Kramer, he notes, “I couldn’t connect to the joy of being an artist. I was a good character actor, but I was comfortable being the character, not in being me.”

This insecurity led him to turn down opportunities, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and hosting ‘Saturday Night Live’ twice. "Fame magnified my insecurities.”

Regarding the 2006 incident, he offers no excuse. 

"I'm not racist," he says about his offensive language. "I have nothing against Black people. The man who told me I wasn’t funny echoed what I had been telling myself. I felt put down. I wanted to put him down."


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