When the Social Security Administration’s data revealed that “Seven” is one of the fastest-rising names for boys in the U.S., many were taken by surprise. But “Seinfeld” fans may recall the episode when George Costanza declares his intention to name his firstborn child “Seven,” in honor of Mickey Mantle’s uniform number.
Costanza portrayer Jason Alexander, however, cautions against drawing parenting inspiration from his iconic character.
“If I’ve somehow contributed to this phenomenon ― if it’s like, ‘Well, George said it, so we must go with it’ ― then we’re in big trouble!” the actor told HuffPost while promoting a new Tide Super Bowl commercial he’ll appear in. “Because anything that George Costanza references or touches, in my family we walk a wide arc around such things.”
Still, Alexander shared a message for any Sevens whose parents may have drawn inspiration from the show.
“To all the children named Seven, my apologies, unless they love it,” he said. “If they love it, my congratulations, and I swear I had nothing to do with it. I’m just an actor. All I did was say the line. So go blame Larry David and the writers. But congratulations to all the Sevens, and be glad your name isn’t George!”
Beyond his ambivalence toward the name Seven, Alexander noted that another way he differs from his “Seinfeld” character is his general lack of interest in sports.
“I am so not a sports person. The fact that I’ve played characters who are so deeply connected with sports is just ridiculous, because people would ask me questions and I don’t know what they’re talking about,” he said, laughing.
“I have watched the Super Bowl when I’m invited to a Super Bowl party, and I usually say things like ‘Who are the guys in the red shirts?’ I have no idea who’s playing,” he continued. “I actually watch for the halftime show and the commercials ― those are the highlights, to me. Of course, you put me down at a live football game, and I’m happy to watch it. That goes for any sport. But I find, I guess, I’m not wired with that sports gene. So for me, being a good theater guy, it’s all about ‘Who’s singing at halftime?’”
Despite his lack of enthusiasm for the game itself, Alexander said he’s excited to appear in a lighthearted detergent commercial for the Super Bowl, especially after the tough year that has passed since the last NFL final.
“I’m hoping what the Super Bowl and the commercial will do is entertain,” he said. “What we’ve learned in this pandemic is how desperately we need to be lifted out of the troubles of our lives. I used to think that acting was a really useless, selfish profession ― and while I don’t think it is a front-line worker, what I have learned is how much people want to be taken away from the problems in their lives by these stories, and be entertained and laugh and be moved. So I think the game is going to be a reason to celebrate for a lot of people, and the commercial itself, I hope, will be part of a great fun blitz of entertaining commercials.”
Throughout the challenges of the pandemic, Alexander said he’s been grateful to have the resources to make the situation as comfortable as possible.
“I wake up every day and thank God, the angels, karma and everyone I can thank, because we have been so blessed in our lives,” he said, adding that he’s focused on helping friends, family, colleagues and strangers get through the devastation of the pandemic.
“I do fundraisers. I do online entertainment. I’ve been teaching theater students online to fill in some of the gaps that they’re missing because they’re not in a studio or in college or where they might be studying,” he said. “I‘m trying to just be of some service. But it is rough for everybody. Even if you can get through comfortably, not worried about paying your rent and putting food on the table, the emotional toll of this past year is devastating for everyone. I think it’s not going to be until we’re well past this that we really see how much of a cost it was.”
In the meantime, Alexander is also counting his lucky stars that his two grown sons, Gabe and Noah, live within a mile and a half of him and his wife, Daena Title. He said they come over for masked, socially distanced hangouts in the backyard.
“The weird part is your child comes to your home and you can’t run up and give them a hug,” he said. “That’s a really strange situation.”
Like their theater-loving father, Alexander’s boys aren’t particularly interested in sports.
“My sons are very much my progeny,” he joked. “The lack of sports gene has gone forward. They like going to and watching the Super Bowl, but mostly because it’s a social occasion. They don’t really follow a team.”
The same goes for their thoughts on Alexander’s Super Bowl commercial and other work.
“As far as Dad being in something, my kids are blissfully unexcited by most of my career in show business,” he said. “They’re both supportive. They’re both in the biz in different ways. And they come to my stuff and they’re happy if they see a commercial. But they don’t run around going, ‘I’m so excited, my dad’s on a hoodie.’ They would rather crawl under a rock ― ‘I think I have to hide now because my dad’s on a hoodie.’”