- - Wednesday, January 11, 2017

There are some iconic characters in TV history that you never ever forget: Larry from “Threes Company,” JR from “Dallas,” Radar from “M.A.S.H.” Or The Soup Nazi from “Seinfeld,” played masterfully by actor Larry Thomas.

But unlike those other characters, Mr. Thomas’ Soup Nazi did not appear in episode after episode of the classic show. In fact, he only put on the apron and berated Jerry and the gang during two episodes in the long-running show’s nine seasons. That the role had such an impact has been both a blessing and a curse for the character actor, who has over 60 credits to his IMDB resume, including “Austin Powers” and “Scrubs.”

Mr. Thomas discussed the character as well as his second career as a spokesperson for — what else? — soup.

Question: Do you appear at a lot of autograph shows?

Answer: I do. I probably do about maybe five to 10 of them a year.

Q: What do must fans say when they met you?

A: “Have you ever done any acting other than the Soup Nazi?” Believe me, that is seared into my brain. I consider that a very strange thing to assume, but it seems a lot of people assume it.

I also get so many people that say, “Oh, I’ve been to your restaurant in New York.” People don’t know that I am an actor on TV playing a role. They blend TV and reality.

Q: Is it because that role is so iconic?

A: Why would I ever do anything else? [laughs]

Q: Not to mention the big money people assume you make from one acting gig.

A: Yes, the $2,610 I got from “Seinfeld.”

Q: How did you end up landing the role?

A: It was just the audition process. Standard how it goes: a pre-read and a callback. But there were some fun factors involved in it.

The way I kind of got the audition was that Jefferey Tabor was in my acting class as a substitute teacher. My friends forced me to ask him to do me a favor. I asked him to introduce me to the casting director of “The Larry Sanders Show.” In his true gentlemanly fashion, he did. He set up a meeting, and it turned out the casting director, Mark Hirschfeld, was also casting “Seinfeld.” That was kind of how I got the audition.

I auditioned once. A couple weeks later I went back and read for the whole gang. You know, Jerry, Larry David, etc. It was a pretty grueling morning of going in reading, then coming out and waiting for a half-hour. Then going in again. Reading again. Coming out and waiting for another half-hour.

It was a heck of day. But all these years later, I’m so glad I id it.

Q: How many episodes of “Seinfeld” did you appear in as The Soup Nazi?

A: Two. Just the “Soup Nazi” episode and the finale.

Q: I see today you are autographing soup ladles. What is the strangest thing you have ever been asked to sign?

A: Well, a couple of woman have asked me to sign extremely personal areas of their anatomy. [laughs] 

Usually the things are pretty common. Either the book that people have got out of the “Seinfeld” DVD set. Or a TV Guide. Nothing I can think of at the top of my head that is that bizarre. I do have fans that will play out the episode or scenes from the episode with me.

One time I was with Sony Pictures, and they did a little tour called the “Seinfeld Food Truck.” They had a roach coach that would pull into town. And they would give away these treats that were famous from different episodes, like “Muffin Tops” or Junior Mints. Or “Mulligatawny Stew.” I would be there to meet and greet, take photo ops and sign whatever.

I was taking a photo and I looked down the line, and there was nobody there because the line was stopped. These two people were making out. I said (in “Soup Nazi” voice) “You’re kissing on my line! Nobody kisses on my line!” I love when people do things like that. When they entertain me.

Q: What are you up to these days?

A: Many things. I’m about to direct a film of a sitcom pilot that a friend of mine and I wrote. We are going to actually do it as an indie film. We are kind of gearing up. I’m going to direct it. I finished a film called “Mind Over Mindy” that is hitting the festival circuit.

And I’ve written a book called “Confessions of a Soup Nazi: An Adventure in Acting and Cooking.” It basically tells the story of my journeyman acting career interwoven with my passion for cooking. There are like 52 of my own recipes in there. I talk about why I made something — stories about the recipes that interweave with what was going on in my acting career at the time.

Q: Is your passion for cooking as big as your passion for acting?

A: Almost. If you get me talking about any particular dish, I can go on and on about the ingredients. Those are my two passions. I’ve always loved to cook, and being associated with a character that is a cook has confused people greatly. I am also the spokesperson for the “The Original Soup Man” in New York. That’s the company of Al Yeganeh, whom my character was based on.

I will not only go to New York and hang out behind the counter and mess with people, but “The Original Soup Man” is now in supermarkets in tetra pack cartons. I go and do supermarket demos with them.

I finally decided to blur the lines of reality and let people think what they think.

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