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.)
the most relatable part about this interview is that part where jessica walter says she has to “let go” at being angry at Tambor for his verbal abuse, which is a position women constantly find themselves in to move forward with their lives and career: https://t.co/PI1CoNM3RO
— Ann-Marie Alcántara (@itstheannmarie) May 23, 2018
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.'”)
Jessica Walter has been in Hollywood over 50 years and Tambor’s behavior reduced her to tears in the middle of a NYT interview. I cannot stop thinking about how terrible he must’ve been.
— Nichole ✨✨✨ (@tnwhiskeywoman) May 24, 2018
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.
— Connor Goldsmith (@dreamoforgonon) May 23, 2018
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.”
(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.
Funny how Jessica Walter manages to be a genius without harassing anyone! This tired “erratic male genius” trope is just a Get Out of Jail Free card for people like Tambor who’ve never faced consequences in their lives.
— JuanPa (@jpbrammer) May 24, 2018
We need to stop glorifying the on set/behind the scenes asshole as some kind of a tortured artist. Men who belittle the women they work with stifle creativity and harm productions. This isnt something to celebrate, it’s ugly and unprofessional
— Rebecca Pierce (@aptly_engineerd) May 24, 2018
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!