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Jason Bateman Has Apologised For Normalising The Harassment Jessica Walter Got On The Set Of "Arrested Development"

Bateman tweeted: "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."

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Yesterday, the New York Times published an interview with the cast of Netflix's Arrested Development, provoking a furious response online when the topic of Jeffrey Tambor's on-set behaviour came up.

It was announced earlier this month that Tambor will reprise his role as George Sr in the revived Arrested Development season. Tambor left the Amazon show Transparent after another cast member made sexual harassment allegations against him, which Tambor denies. Tambor has also been accused of verbally harassing Jessica Walter, who plays Lucille Bluth, on the set of Arrested Development.
nytimes.com

It was announced earlier this month that Tambor will reprise his role as George Sr in the revived Arrested Development season. Tambor left the Amazon show Transparent after another cast member made sexual harassment allegations against him, which Tambor denies. Tambor has also been accused of verbally harassing Jessica Walter, who plays Lucille Bluth, on the set of Arrested Development.

When the topic of Tambor's behaviour came up midway through the interview, Jason Bateman, who plays Michael Bluth in the show, attempted to defend his costar's actions.

Sam Urdank / Netflix

He said:

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." Because it’s a very amorphous process, this sort of bullshit that we do, you know, making up fake life. It’s a weird thing, and it is a breeding ground for atypical behaviour and certain people have certain processes.

Alia Shawkat, who plays Maeby in Arrested Development and was the only woman besides Walter being interviewed at the time, interrupted Bateman's answer, saying: "But that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable."

Saeed Adyani / Saeed Adyani/Netflix

Many people were furious at the normalisation of Tambor's reported behaviour.

I can’t stop thinking about that NYT interview with the Arrested Development cast. It’s such a perfect distillation of men’s reflexive instinct to protect other men at the expense of women. And then men wonder why harassment — in all its forms — is still such a pervasive issue.

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

It was also pointed out that Bateman was essentially mansplaining acting to Walter, who has had the longest acting career out of all of them.

Jessica Walter made her screen debut before most of the other Arrested Development cast members were born, yet here they are talking over her to explain set dynamics.

one small but very striking thing from that nyt arrested development interview: jason bateman essentially explaining "how the industry works" to jessica walter, as if she isn't an accomplished veteran of the same industry.

Jessica Walter received a Golden Globe nomination in 1971, when Jason Bateman was two years old, and he thinks he should explain to her how show business works.

Walter, who at one point was in tears during the conversation, said that she'd never experienced verbal harassment of that kind before or since, but added that she felt she needed to "let it go".

Speaking about Tambor, who was sitting right next to her in the interview, she said: "I have to let go of being angry at him. He never crossed the line on our show, with any, you know, sexual whatever. Verbally, yes, he harassed me, but he did apologise. I have to let it go."
Netflix

Speaking about Tambor, who was sitting right next to her in the interview, she said: "I have to let go of being angry at him. He never crossed the line on our show, with any, you know, sexual whatever. Verbally, yes, he harassed me, but he did apologise. I have to let it go."

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 https://t.co/q6dAhMnkMp

In a series of tweets published Thursday morning, Bateman apologised for his response to Walter's experience.

Netflix

Bateman wrote:

Based on listening to the NYT interview and hearing people’s thoughts online, I realize that I was wrong here. I sound like I’m condoning yelling at work. I do not. It sounds like I’m excusing Jeffery. I do not. It sounds like I’m insensitive to Jessica. I am not.

In fact, I’m horrified that I wasn’t more aware of how this incident affected her. I was so eager to let Jeffrey know that he was supported in his attempt to learn, grow and apologize that I completely underestimated the feelings of the victim, another person I deeply love - and she was sitting right there!

I’m incredibly embarrassed and deeply sorry to have done that to Jessica. This is a big learning moment for me. 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.

Tony Hale, who plays Buster in Arrested Development, has also apologised.

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.

And Netflix has decided to cancel the UK press tour for the show.

Following the NYT debacle, all UK #ArrestedDevelopment interviews scheduled for tomorrow (including my own) have been cancelled. Netflix statement: https://t.co/EgxKGYEAzy

Via Twitter: @ChristophHooton

Netflix has been contacted for comment.