Though Seinfeld signed off in 1998, the sitcom's shadow still looms large over Patrick Warburton — who's best known as Puddy, the dullard boyfriend Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) kept around just for his sexual prowess.

"I did nine episodes of a half-hour TV show, and I'm in danger of getting typecast," he marvels to TV Guide Online. "I would never call Puddy dumb, but he certainly wasn't the sharpest cat around. Producers and casting directors don't expect much from you after you do something like that — [they feel] that's who you are and what you do. People in this town are very narrow-minded.

"I guess I can make as much of an issue out of this typecasting thing as anyone else," he continues with a shrug. "Maybe that's one of my big fears. You get worried about that as an actor... Am I always the same? I don't think so. I sure hope not."

Speaking practically, Warburton admits that he "still will do characters that are not a big stretch from Puddy" to help pay the rent. For instance, he'll play a lunkheaded cop opposite Janeane Garofalo, Tim Allen and Rene Russo in director Barry Sonnenfeld's comedy Big Trouble, which hits theaters this fall. And come July 2002, look for him to appear as Will Smith's alien-busting colleague in Sonnenfeld's Men in Black 2.

Still, Warburton maintains that "as an actor, I have to continually strive to do different things." To wit, he currently can be seen playing "a no-b.s. scientist from NASA" in the imported Australian sleeper hit The Dish, which co-stars Sam Neill. The charming film reimagines how quirky townies in the Aussie hamlet of Parkes helped broadcast the first images of the 1969 Apollo moonwalk via satellite dish.

And this fall, the actor brings a wacky comic-book hero to life in Fox's new series, The Tick. Unlike lusty Puddy, the title character is a Superman sans a Lois Lane. "He can be clueless about the difference between the sexes," Warburton explains. "He's obviously an alpha male, but he seems to be asexual... just not interested."