In an interview with Deadline, Arrested Development creator and showrunner Mitch Hurwitz broke his silence on the on-set incident where Jeffrey Tambor verbally abused Jessica Walter which was also the subject of an intense and controversial interview with the New York Times last month. The story went viral when Walter's male co-stars, including Jason Bateman, defended Tambor while downplaying her harrowing experience.
Hurwitz provided more insight into what set Tambor off: "It was something minor, like he was doing a speech and Jessica wanted to redo something in her speech," he said. "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."
According to Hurwitz, Walter told him at the time that the incident had upset her, but says he didn't realize how badly because Walter handled it with such professionalism. It wasn't until he heard her break down in that New York Times interview that he realized how much it hurt her. "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. I feel bad because I love these people--I feel bad for very personal reasons...I wish I'd known, or made a greater effort to know, the pain that it caused."
In the New York Times interview, Walter said, through tears, "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 apologize. I have to let it go." She continued, "In like 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."
Bateman drew heavy criticism for defending Tambor's "process" and minimalizing her feelings, but has since apologized.
Hurwitz also defended his decision to keep Tambor on the show after the actor was fired from the Amazon series Transparent amid accusations of sexual harassment. "Jeffrey refutes those claims, Amazon hasn't shared details with us, and we've never had any sexual harassment allegations of any type on our show--a point that Jessica Walter has made as well," Hurwitz insisted. "To be clear: in saying this I'm not defending sexual harassment. It is and should be a job-terminating offense. 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."
Detailed allegations of Tambor's behavior on the Transparent set, which include a claim from actress Trace Lysette that Tambor pressed his penis into her hip, surfaced when filming on Season of Arrested Development was nearly complete.
Arrested Development is available to stream on Netflix.