Seinfeld star Michael Richards reflects on infamous 2006 racist rant: ‘The damage was inside of me’

Seinfeld star Michael Richards has reflected on the 2006 racist rant that ended his stand-up career, saying: “Crisis managers wanted me to do damage control. But as far as I was concerned, the damage was inside of me.”

Richards, 74, shot to fame playing Jerry Seinfeld’s eccentric neighbor Cosmo Kramer on the hit sitcom that ran between 1989 and 1998.

However, he’s spent the last 18 years largely out of the limelight since being filmed onstage at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles hurling racist insults, including the N-word, at a group of hecklers during his stand-up set.

In a new interview with People, Richards said: “I was immediately sorry the moment I said it onstage.”

The actor and comedian will publish a memoir, Entrances and Exits, next month, but added: “I’m not looking for a comeback.”

Asked about that night in 2006, Richards said he has no excuse for the language he used. “I’m not racist,” he said. “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.”

‘Seinfeld’ star Michael Richards, who played Jerry Seinfeld’s eccentric neighbor Cosmo Kramer, at the premiere of ‘Unfrosted’ in April 2024 (Getty Images)
‘Seinfeld’ star Michael Richards, who played Jerry Seinfeld’s eccentric neighbor Cosmo Kramer, at the premiere of ‘Unfrosted’ in April 2024 (Getty Images)

“My anger was all over the place and it came through hard and fast,” continued Richards. “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.”

Richards told the publication that he’s spent the last 17 years in “deep analysis,” and said: “It was time to figure out where all the anger was coming from.”

In his book, Richards writes that the answer came down to his insecurities, and a feeling of not being wanted that he traced back to being raised by a single mother who had initially wanted an abortion, but didn’t have one as they were illegal and dangerous at the time.

“Somehow I couldn’t connect to the joy of being an artist,” said Richards, who says his struggles continued even after he became famous. “I was a good character actor, but I was comfortable being the character, not in being me.”

He added that his insecurities led him to turn down multiple opportunities. “I said no to the offer of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I didn’t feel deserving,” he 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 2021, Seinfeld writer Larry Charles said that if the show were being made in the present day, Kramer would be a “QAnon believer”.