Arrested Development’s creator is finally weighing in on the incident between Jessica Walter and Jeffrey Tambor that caused such a stir ahead of the release of the show’s fifth season on Netflix. Mitchell Hurwitz told Deadline that he feels “guilty” for not realizing how upset Walter was after what Tambor himself has characterized as a “blowup” at his castmate. From the sound of it, Hurwitz was not actually present during the outburst but heard about it after the fact and saw footage of at least some portion of the incident.
Here’s how he described what happened:
“It was something minor, like he was doing a speech and Jessica wanted to redo something in her speech,” he explained. “She’s a perfectionist, which I have a horrible case of myself, and he’s sort of loose with it, finds his way back if he gets off course within the speech, for instance … And she was resetting and he got upset and was like, ‘Oh, come on! You always do this!’ He continued for a bit and she apologized. ‘I’m sorry, Jeffrey, I’m sorry.’ But he continued and then walked off—the set apparently, but he walked out of frame.”
Hurwitz said that while Walter told him she was upset at the time, she behaved like “a total pro” and resumed filming. Walter would later tell the New York Times, “In like almost 60 years of working, I’ve never had anybody yell at me like that on a set.”
Some of the other Arrested Development actors got themselves into trouble for trying to publicly downplay Tambor’s behavior toward Walter, for which he later apologized. Hurwitz acknowledged that he too may have underestimated the severity of the ordeal. “There was more to it than I realized, and it’s not my place to opine about what I believe was the weight of it,” he said. “I misinterpreted what I understood to have played out, and more importantly the depth of Jessica’s pain about it. I feel so bad about that.”
In the same interview, Hurwitz defended keeping Tambor on as part of the cast despite the sexual harassment claims that led to the actor’s departure from Transparent. “To be clear: In saying this I’m not defending sexual harassment. It is and should be a job-terminating offense,” Hurwitz told Deadline. “I just don’t have any information on whatever happened there. Nor do I have any evidence of him ever sexually harassing anyone in the 20 years, off and on, that I’ve worked with him.”