Marisa Tomei guest-starred as herself in one of the most memorable episodes of Seinfeld, and her appearance came about in true, quirky Seinfeld fashion. Seinfeld’s 1989-1998 run was home to some of the greatest cameos, guest-starring bits, and TV debuts of stars from the 1990s. From appearances by Bette Midler, Courteney Cox, Bryan Cranston, and Jon Favreau to various cameos by creator Larry David, Seinfeld was able to bring on big names in extremely comedic fashions, including an iconic storyline with Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei.
In Seinfeld’s 1996 episode “The Cadillac”, Elaine’s friend mentions to George that she’s friends with actress Marisa Tomei, and surprisingly he’s exactly her type. Ecstatic that an Academy Award-winning beautiful actress considered “funny, quirky, bald men” her type, George desperately tries to get Marisa’s phone number to ask her on a date—but the problem is that he’s engaged to Susan. George finally harasses Elaine’s friend into giving him Marisa’s number, and the two meet for a date in the park. But, in true George Costanza fashion, Marisa becomes furious when he mentions he’s engaged, so she punches him and storms off.
At the time of Marisa Tomei’s cameo in Seinfeld season 7, she was one of the most famous young actresses in Hollywood, especially after her Oscar win for My Cousin Vinny three years prior. Partially because of the political corruption of Jerry’s dad’s Florida neighborhood and partially because of Marisa Tomei’s cameo as herself, “The Cadillac” has become one of the most iconic episodes of Seinfeld, and is one that Tomei has been asked about routinely for the past 25 years. Out of any woman that George Costanza dated on Seinfeld, Marisa Tomei is one of the best-remembered, especially since she was portraying herself and got to comedically hand George his comeuppance by punching him in the face.
When the actress was asked to appear in a Seinfeld season 7 cameo, she was overjoyed, largely because it was the top sitcom of the time. After being asked to appear, Tomei asked Seinfeld showrunner Larry David why she was “so lucky” to be chosen, and the reason why Marisa Tomei cameoed on Seinfeld didn’t actually have to do with her stature as an iconic, celebrated actress of her day; David simply liked the rhythm of her name (via Marie Claire). David elaborated that when one says her name over and over again, it has a really strong rhythm, after which he began repeating “Marisa Tomei.” Seinfeld‘s characters actually end up saying “Marisa Tomei” at least 26 times in “The Cadillac”‘s two-part episode. The reason behind getting Marisa Tomei to come onto the show – for no major reason other than to use her name as a comic vehicle – sounds like it could be a subplot in an actual episode of Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Marisa Tomei told NPR that Seinfeld’s producers called and asked her if she wanted to be a guest on the show, but she had absolutely no idea what the cameo would entail. She had no prior knowledge of the Seinfeld episode’s George Costanza plotline, but had an incredibly fun time with Jason Alexander during her scenes. Additionally, the idea that she loves “funny, quirky, bald men” has followed her since 1996, as such men still happily talk to her about it today. Tomei also explained that any time she runs into Jason Alexander, the two mention wanting to star in their own TV show together. Expanding on the profound legacy of Marisa Tomei’s Seinfeld cameo, fans of her role as Aunt May in the MCU’s Spider-Man movies have joked on Twitter that they consider George Costanza to be the unseen Uncle Ben until proven otherwise.