Outrageous! Egregious! Preposterous!
More than a decade after Seinfeld ended, one of the TV series' most beloved characters has been reborn online. Jackie Chiles, the fast-talking attorney whose civil lawsuits were dependably foiled by Kramer, is starring in his own series on the comedy video website Funny or Die.
Chiles is played by Phil Morris, a 41-year-old Los Angeles actor who never wanted to fully relinquish the role. After Seinfeld ended in 1998, Morris tried to develop a spinoff about Chiles, but it never got off the ground.
"It always kind of festered in me that that was an opportunity missed, that the public missed something, that I missed something," Morris said. "It was always in me to do. As an actor, you rarely get characters that are as full as a Jackie Chiles, where I can just put on the suit and the mustache and — boom! — he's there."
Chiles, a parody of O.J. Simpson's late defense attorney Johnnie Cochran, appeared in five episodes on Seinfeld, including the finale. Kramer (Michael Richards) comes to him repeatedly to sue over things like hot coffee burning him (because he hid a cup in his pants at a movie theater) and the graying of his face from cigar smoke ("Your face is my case," says Chiles).
In another episode, Chiles helps Kramer sue over the public indecency of another character, Sue Ellen Mischke, who was wearing only a bra as a top. Though Chiles calls it "lewd, lascivious, salacious, outrageous!" he's undone in the trial, when — much like the glove in the O.J. Simpson trial — Mischke tries on the bra and it doesn't fit.
In the Funny Or Die clips, Chiles has moved his practice to Los Angeles. He announces his return: "Did you miss me? I knew that you did. But I'm back and I'm badder and madder than ever."
Working with a Funny or Die production team, Morris made five clips. Two have been released and the rest will come out gradually. Though mainly an actor by trade, Morris wrote them himself, along with actor-writer Whit Hertford.
"I had to write these spots in the tone of the Seinfeld universe," Morris said. "I know this character, I know this guy."
To bring Chiles back, Morris first had to get permission from Seinfeld production company Castle Rock Entertainment, and the go-ahead from the show's creators, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David.
"We always enjoyed Phil's ability to bring that character to life," Seinfeld said. "Glad that it's living on."