'Arrested Development' Actress Jessica Walter Deserves Better – Kveller
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‘Arrested Development’ Actress Jessica Walter Deserves Better

Jessica Walter

Ahead of Arrested Development‘s fifth season, the cast members — including Jeffrey Tambor, who has been accused of sexual harassment and fired from Transparent — are on a press tour. This included a roundtable at the New York Times, with all the cast members (with the exception of Portia de Rossi and Michael Cera) participating.

The conversation turned to Tambor and his harassing behavior on set. Jessica Walter — who plays Lucille Booth, the wife of Tambor’s character — spoke of the time Tambor verbally assaulted her. She says, while crying, in “almost 60 years of working, I’ve never had anybody yell at me like that on a set and its hard to deal with.”

Did Walter’s castmates — including Jason Bateman and David Cross — come to her defense and profess their support? Not at all, actually. Rather, the only person to speak up on her behalf was the other woman in the room: Alia Shawkat, who, notably, has also worked with Tambor on Transparent.

(In case you doubt this version of events, the Times helpfully provided audio of the exchange.)

Walter, 77, was born in a Jewish family in Brooklyn in 1941. She’s been a professional actress since 1960, when she made her debut in the Broadway play Advise and Consent.

Her long and storied career is part of what was so disheartening about the conversation with the Times: It’s maddening to hear her castmates offer explanations about what’s appropriate in an industry she’s worked in longer than they’ve been alive. (Take Bateman, 49, who says, “in the entertainment industry it is incredibly common to have people who are, in quotes, ‘difficult.'”)

As the conversation painfully continues, her male castmates continuously interrupt Walter to mansplain the situation. Tony Hale jumps in, saying, “we’ve all had moments.” Walter defends herself: “but not like that, not like that.”

Jessica Walter

(We could keep going with these quotes, but Jezbel‘s “A Big Fuck Off to the Men of Arrested Development,” does a fantastic job of spotlighting the most problematic quotes. Read it.)

To be clear: Nobody doubts this Tambor verbally harassed Walter. Tambor himself, in a profile in the Hollywood Reporter  admits to a “blowup” he had with her on set.

Whereas Walter’s male colleagues clearly failed her during the interview, many on Twitter, at least, jumped to her defense.

Jessica Walter

The backlash had an effect: Bateman later tweeted a series of apologies, which concluded with,”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.” Hale also tweeted an apology.

As we all know, abuse and disrespect is not part of the creative process. Jessica Walter: Kveller has your back!

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