Mitch Hurwitz, the creator of Arrested Development (and former writer on The Golden Girls), appeared on this week’s episode of the Smartless podcast, hosted by Sean Hayes and two of Hurwitz’s former co-workers on Arrested, Jason Bateman and Will Arnett.
It’s a great episode if you want the inside scoop on The Golden Girls — Bea Arther was apparently tough as nails on the exterior but a teddy bear on the inside, while Betty White was just the opposite, and it sounds like White and Arthur didn’t always get along — or behind-the-scenes details about Arrested Development. For instance, Hurwitz once tried to get Tobias Fünke, the struggling actor played by David Cross, on an episode of House, but the showrunner on House was not keen on the idea. Hurwitz also spoke to how sometimes Jeffrey Tambor could be difficult, but also noted that he was a “teddy bear” and had a very dry sense of humor that could sometimes be mistaken for meanness.
Hurwitz also spoke at length about the audition process from behind the camera. He said that while he understands that actors put a lot of effort and emotional energy into preparing auditions, it rarely comes down to acting ability. In reality, Hurwitz said, “People come in and you immediately know that they’re right or they’re not right for that particular role [before they even deliver a line]. It’s not about the talent.”
Speaking of auditions, however, there is apparently an alternate universe where Rainn Wilson — best known for playing Dwight Schrute on The Office — ends up as G.O.B., the character played by Will Arnett on Arrested Development. However, Will Arnett came in and Mitch Hurwitz just immediately knew he was right for the role. He was so certain, in fact, that Hurwitz told Arnett before his audition with the network that “you’re going to get this.”
However, “it was what I said after [the audition] that was so horrible that I still wake up thinking about it,” Hurwitz said. “[Arnett] came out [of the audition] and I loved him immediately, just like I loved Jason [Bateman] … Arnett came out, and then I stepped out of the room. I grabbed [Arnett] and I said, ‘You got it! You got it! They loved you!’
“And then I looked over to the left and there were two more guys waiting.”
“Oooh, that’s bad,” Sean Hayes chimed in.
“One of them was Rainn Wilson,” Arnett added. “He’s a great actor, and he ended up doing OK.”
“Had he gotten G.O.B.,” Bateman added, “he wouldn’t have gotten The Office, and a longer run.”
Turnabout is fair play. Arnett was actually up as a potential replacement for regional manager of Dunder Mifflin in season 8 of The Office after Steve Carell left the series, but ultimately he did not land the gig. I only hope that Arnett was not in the room when Rainn Wilson congratulated James Spader for landing the part.