The new season of Arrested Development was preceded by some criticism over the accusations against Jeffrey Tambor and his treatment of co-star Jessica Walter during the filming for season five. While Tambor was let go from Transparent due to allegations of sexual misconduct, his behavior on the set of Arrested Development was different. And as most saw while reading a very awkward interview in the New York Times, it left quite a mark on Walter and caused some friction ahead of the show’s Netflix premiere.
Many of the cast, including David Cross and Jason Bateman, released statements following the NYT feature to apologize for how their comments were taken and show their support for Walter. Creator Mitch Hurwitz joined them in a recent interview with Deadline, recounting the incident and giving it a second look for the first time it went public. For him, it didn’t seem like anything significant at the time:
“I’m guilty of not realizing how deeply upsetting that was for Jessica,” Hurwitz admitted. “I heard about it and saw parts of it in the dailies, although the part I saw didn’t seem that—I don’t know—momentous. But fights and outbursts always start with things that are smaller…
“It was something minor, like he was doing a speech and Jessica wanted to redo something in her speech,” he explained. “She’s a perfectionist, which I have a horrible case of myself, and he’s sort of loose with it, finds his way back if he gets off course within the speech, for instance… And she was resetting and he got upset and was like, ‘Oh, come on! You always do this!’ He continued for a bit and she apologized. ‘I’m sorry, Jeffrey, I’m sorry.’ But he continued and then walked off—the set apparently, but he walked out of frame.”
Hurwitz describes the spark for the incident as a difference in approach for each actor, with Walter being more of a perfectionist and Tambor going with the flow or keeping loose. He indicates that Tambor apologized soon after, but he didn’t realize just how much the incident affected things between the actor until later:
Jessica was really gracious about that—and, you know, was professional in that she didn’t let on that it was still upsetting and present for her. She’s a total pro and the set went back to functioning as well as it always has due to her professionalism, and that’s to her immense credit…
There was more to it than I realized, and it’s not my place to opine about what I believe was the weight of it,” he said. “I misinterpreted what I understood to have played out, and more importantly the depth of Jessica’s pain about it. I feel so bad about that. I feel bad because I love these people—I feel bad for very personal reasons…I wish I’d known, or made a greater effort to know, the pain that it caused.”
Hurwitz also talks a bit about his own troubles with the cast during production, including an intervention to deal with him being late with scripts and not being available to the cast on set. Hurwitz blames “playing catch-up in our storytelling” for keeping him away from the set in a different way than everybody was used to, forcing Jason Bateman to approach him and inform him of the feelings of the cast. It’s an interesting interview, wrapping up all of the tidbits that led up to this season, giving us another look at the incident that has lingered over top of it all.