‘I’m not racist’: Michael Richards addresses 18-year-old racial outburst

Michael Richards at the Los Angeles premiere of Jerry Seinfeld's "Unfrosted" held at The Egyptian Theatre Hollywood on April 30, 2024, in Los Angeles, California. Alberto Rodriguez/Variety via Getty Images

Seinfeld actor Michael Richards is easing back into the public eye 18 years after he berated a heckler at a comedy show in 2006 with racial epithets.

The tirade, which was caught on camera, brought the once-acclaimed actor’s career to a screeching halt after he repeatedly called Black audience members the N-word while on stage. Now Richards, 74, is promoting the upcoming release of his new memoir, Entrances and Exits, in which he writes about his childhood, career and the outburst that ended his good graces among the general public.

“I was immediately sorry the moment I said it onstage,” Richards told People magazine in a new interview. “I’m not looking for a comeback.”

Richards said he doesn’t expect the public to forgive and forget his on-camera diatribe. Still, the Cosmo Kramer actor maintains he is “not racist.”

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“I have nothing against Black people,” Richards said. “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.”

He said he has spent the last 18 years working on bettering himself and understanding his emotions.

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

“Crisis managers wanted me to do damage control. But as far as I was concerned, the damage was inside of me,” Richards said, adding he was emotionally insecure and uncomfortable with fame.

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“I was never really satisfied with my Seinfeld performance. Fame magnified my insecurities,” he said.

Richards revealed he’s rejected many career opportunities in the years since 2006, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and two calls to host Saturday Night Live, because he “didn’t feel deserving.”

In a separate interview, also with People magazine, Richards revealed he was diagnosed with stage 1 prostate cancer in the summer of 2018. Richards said his doctors acted quickly to surgically remove his prostate.

“It had to be contained quickly,” he recalled. “I had to go for the full surgery. If I hadn’t, I probably would have been dead in about eight months.”

He said the cancer diagnosis is what inspired him to write his book.

Richards’ memoir Entrances and Exits will be released on June 4, 2024. The book includes a forward penned by Jerry Seinfeld.

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