“Arrested Development” actress Jessica Walter has received a flood of support since she told The New York Times that co-star Jeffrey Tambor verbally harassed her on set — and fans are also rallying around her because of a group interview with the newspaper in which some of her male co-stars defended Tambor.
“I have to let go of being angry at him,” Walter said during the interview. She added that 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.”
The report, published Wednesday, said Walter, who plays Lucille Bluth, spoke through tears as Tambor sat a few feet away. He plays her on-screen husband, George Bluth Sr.
The show’s Jason Bateman said that the behavior Walter described was typical with certain performers, and actress Alia Shawkat interjected, “But that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. And the point is that things are changing, and people need to respect each other differently.”
Update: In a series of tweets early Thursday, Bateman apologized for his remarks. “Based on listening to the NYT interview and hearing people’s thoughts online, I realize that I was wrong here,” he wrote. “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.”
Fellow “Arrested Development” star Tony Hale, who was also present at the interview, followed Bateman’s tweets with his own, writing: “I have reached out to Jessica personally to apologize. Arrested Development is one of my families. 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.”
Times reporter Sopan Deb conducted the interview. She called the discussion, which also involved other cast members, “a notably raw interlude” for the cast.
The exchange sparked outraged responses on social media in the hours after its publication.
“Jessica Walter actually cries in this interview about how terrible Jeffrey Tambor was to her and her male co-stars go to extraordinary lengths to comfort and defend …Tambor. FFS,” New York Magazine writer Marin Cogan wrote on Twitter.
“By age 35 you should know better than to try and convince your weeping female coworker that the workplace verbal abuse she experienced is no big deal,” screenwriter and director Eric Haywood said.
“First person to write a TV show for Jessica Walter and Alia Shawkat only wins,” Joe Reid, senior writer and producer for Decider wrote.
In another tear-filled interaction during the Times interview, Walter said Tambor “never crossed the line on our show, with any, you know, sexual whatever. Verbally, yes, he harassed me, but he did apologize. I have to let it go.”
She then turned to the actor and told him, “and I have to give you a chance to, you know, for us to be friends again.”
Tony Hale went on to respond by saying, “we’ve all had moments … we’ve worked together 15 years, there has been other points of anger coming out.” Bateman added: “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.”
He added: “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.”
Netflix announced a 2018 release for Season 5 of “Arrested Development” last May, long before Tambor was ousted from his leading role on “Transparent.” The star of the Amazon series was fired in February following sexual misconduct accusations made against him by actresses Van Barnes and Trace Lysette.
Tambor has denied all accusations of wrongdoing, though he opened up about the experience (as well as his behavior toward Walter) in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter earlier this month, after Netflix announced Tambor would be returning for the next installment.
A representative for Netflix did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Click here to read the full Times interview and read more Twitter reactions below.
Jessica Walter actually cries in this interview about how terrible Jeffrey Tambor was to her and her male co-stars go to extraordinary lengths to comfort and defend…Tambor. FFS. https://t.co/1bv4JHesW2
– Marin Cogan (@marincogan) May 23, 2018
First person to write a TV show for Jessica Walter and Alia Shawkat only wins.
– Joe Reid (@joereid) May 23, 2018
By age 35 you should know better than to try and convince your weeping female coworker that the workplace verbal abuse she experienced is no big deal
– Eric Haywood (@EricHaywood) May 24, 2018
this long exchange — in which the men of Arrested Development excuse and excuse Jeffrey Tambor’s behavior, and Jessica Walter pushes back to stand up for herself — is something. https://t.co/68YBKOMU7l pic.twitter.com/q6dAhMnkMp
– Amanda Hess (@amandahess) May 23, 2018
Here’s audio of Jessica Walter CRYING, standing up for herself after all the men in the AD cast try to gaslight her into thinking Tambor’s harassment isn’t THAT bad. This is horrific. pic.twitter.com/innJv8LIYF
– Kevin T. Porter (@KevinTPorter) May 23, 2018
What strikes about this exchange is how many times Jessica Walter has to clarify and reiterate that no one has ever spoken to her as inexcusably as Jeffrey Tambor has, because the rest of the cast repeatedly interrupts her to downplay it. https://t.co/7eB3sEo0aE
– Kevin Fallon (@kpfallon) May 23, 2018
“Arrested Development” Season 5 Part 1 launches May 29 on Netflix.