Jessica Walter is all sorts of awesome.
First, she is part of one of my favorite animated shows, and not just of recent vintage, either. I think “Archer” belongs in the pantheon of animated comedy. That show is funny on so many simultaneous levels that it makes me dizzy. I love it as a spy comedy, as a comedy about a stunted manchild and his relationship with his mother, and as a non-stop barrage of some of the dirtiest things that have ever made me laugh.
Second, she’s the mother of the Bluth family, and that alone would secure her place in the all-time hall of fame. Her work as Lucille was a major part of what made the show special. Watching her manipulate her children and grapple with the ethical vacuum that is her husband and somehow never spill a drop of any of her martinis… well, that’s talent.
Beyond that, I wonder how many younger fans of her work in those shows are familiar with the role that first made her an icon to me, Clint Eastwood’s “Play Misty For Me.” She is outstanding in that film as a woman who is completely obsessed with a radio disc jockey played by Eastwood. It was his first film as a director, and it’s still one of the best roles he’s ever given an actress in his work.
In short, it was a pleasure to sit down with her to kick off a recent press day for the return of “Arrested Development.” I got to see one episode of the new series, enough for me to recognize that the show is still very much the same show that was killed off by Fox several years ago, and that Walter managed to slip right back into playing Lucille as if no time had passed at all.
She was a delight to interview, and it struck me how some people manage to make the incredibly unnatural process of junket interviews seem very relaxed and informal. That’s a gift that’s almost as valuable for an actor to have as an ability to act, particularly these days when everything is driven by marketing. And speaking of gifts, I love that she acknowledges what a great position she’s in as an actor right now thanks to these two roles in “Archer” and “Arrested,” and I sincerely hope we’re not done with Lucille Bluth yet.
All 15 episodes of “Arrested Development” arrive on NetFlix Instant on May 26.