Season five of Arrested Development is set to hit Netflix on May 29th. Ahead of the premiere date, the cast sat down for an honest, illuminating interview with The New York Times.
During the discussion, the cast addressed the elephant in the room: the Transparent sexual misconduct accusations made against Jeffrey Tambor (George Bluth). While most remained neutral or at least a tad diplomatic about the topic, Jason Bateman (Michael Bluth) came to the defense of Tambor, and in an exceptionally tasteless way.
When asked whether he would be part of any subsequent Arrested Development seasons, Tambor replied, “I surely hope so.” Bateman then chimed in to stand up for his cast mate, saying, “Well, I won’t do it without you. I can tell you that.” Bateman also said that the show’s creator, Mitch Hurwitz, has “no reason” to not continue to stay supportive of Tambor, despite the Transparent allegations.
Later, Jessica Walter (Lucille Bluth) revealed that Tambor had once verbally abused her on the set of the show. Walter broke down in tears while discussing the incident and how she’s struggled to forgive him. “I have to let go of being angry at him,” said Walter. In “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.”
Even amidst this breakdown from Walter, Bateman repeatedly backed Tambor, chalking up his verbal harassment to “the process” of being an actor in the entertainment business. Somehow making it worse, he always prefaced his defense of Tambor by saying something like, “Not to belittle the [Walter] incident…”, which he then, of course, did in Grade A asshole fashion.
“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.” And when you’re in a privileged position to hire people, or have an influence in who does get hired, you make phone calls. And you say, ‘Hey, so I’ve heard X about person Y, tell me about that.’ And what you learn is context. And you learn about character and you learn about work habits, work ethics, and you start to understand. Because it’s a very amorphous process, this sort of [expletive] that we do, you know, making up fake life. It’s a weird thing, and it is a breeding ground for atypical behavior and certain people have certain processes.”
“What we do for a living is not normal, and therefore the process is not normal sometimes, and to expect it to be normal is to not understand what happens on set. Again, not to excuse it, Alia, but to be surprised by people having a wobbly route to their goal, their process — it’s very rarely predictable. All I can say, personally, is I have never learned more from an actor that I’ve worked with than Jeffrey Tambor. And I consider him one of my favorite, most valued people in my life.”
Example three (in which he pretty much throws Walter under the bus):
“Not to say that you know, you [Walter] had it coming. But this is not in a vacuum — families come together and certain dynamics collide and clash every once in a while. And there’s all kinds of things that go into the stew so it’s a little narrow to single that one particular thing that is getting attention from our show.”
Walter made it clear that she doesn’t agree with any of the “it’s all part of the process, man” bullshit from Bateman, but that she is working on putting the harassment incident behind her. Alia Shawkat (Maeby Fünke), after each of Bateman’s pontifications, also tried to have Walter’s back. “But that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable,” she often would counter Bateman. At least someone has a conscience.
Hear a clip of the interview below.
Update: Bateman has apologized in a statement posted to Twitter. “I’m incredibly embarrassed and deeply sorry to have done that to Jessica. This is a big learning moment for me,” he wrote. “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.”
Below, revisit the trailer for season five: