With just a few days left until the premiere of the fifth season of Arrested Development on May 29, the Netflix reboot has found itself at the center of a controversy involving a recent interview with the cast and an incident between Jeffrey Tambor and Jessica Walter.
Several of the show’s stars sat down for an interview with the New York Times, during which the reporter asked about Tambor’s previous reference to a “blowup” on set with Walter (Lucille Bluth). Jason Bateman (Michael Bluth) was the first to address the question, saying, “This is a family and families, you know, have love, laughter, arguments — again, not to belittle it, but a lot of stuff happens in 15 years. … And I can say that no matter what anybody in this room has ever done — and we’ve all done a lot, with each other, for each other, against each other — I wouldn’t trade it for the world and I have zero complaints.”
He also said later, “Again, not to belittle it or excuse it or anything, but in the entertainment industry it is incredibly common to have people who are, in quotes, ‘difficult.'”
After her other male costars cosigned Bateman’s statements, Walters herself spoke up. Through tears, she said, “Jason says this happens all the time. In like almost 60 years of working, I’ve never had anybody yell at me like that on a set. And it’s hard to deal with, but I’m over it now. I just let it go right here, for The New York Times.”
Alia Shawkat (Maeby Fünke) came to Walter’s defense during the interview, telling Bateman that being in the entertainment industry did not excuse alleged disrespectful behavior. “That doesn’t mean it’s acceptable,” she said. “And the point is that things are changing, and people need to respect each other differently.”
Online backlash against Bateman and his male costars ensued, and on Thursday morning, Bateman took to Twitter to apologize to Walter for his remarks. “I realize that I was wrong here. I sound like I’m condoning yelling at work. I do not. It sounds like I’m excusing Jeffery. I do not. It sounds like I’m insensitive to Jessica. I am not,” he wrote. “In fact, I’m horrified that I wasn’t more aware of how this incident affected her. I was so eager to let Jeffrey know that he was supported in his attempt to learn, grow, and apologize that I completely underestimated the feelings of the victim, another person I deeply love — and she was sitting right there!”
He continued: “I’m incredibly embarrassed and deeply sorry to have done that to Jessica. This is a big learning moment for me. I shouldn’t have tried so hard to mansplain, or fix a fight, or make everything okay. I should’ve focused more on what the most important part of it all is — there’s never any excuse for abuse, in any form, from any gender. And, the victim’s voice needs to be heard and respected. Period. I didn’t say that and instead said a bunch of other stuff and not very well. I deeply, and sincerely, apologize.”
Tony Hale (Buster Bluth) also responded to the backlash, saying he has reached out personally to Walter to apologize. “Arrested Development is one of my families,” he said. “Regardless of my intentions, it is clear that my words, both said and unsaid, served to minimize Jessica’s pain and for that I am extremely sorry.”
Tambor, Walter, Will Arnett (Gob Bluth), and David Cross (Tobias Fünke), who were also present for the interview, have not spoken further on the controversy.
What do you think of the Arrested Development conversation and apologies? Let us know @BritandCo.
(photos via Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)