Why Arrested Development Originally Wanted to Recast Mae Whitman's Ann

arrested development mae whitman ann

Arrested Development has become one of the most beloved TV comedies of all time in the years since its cancellation, and one of the most unforgettable characters is one that most of the Bluths could never remember. George Michael's unfortunately bland girlfriend Ann (or Egg or Plant or Yam) was the butt of many jokes for how she continually failed to make an impression on anybody except for George Michael (and later G.O.B.). Mae Whitman was cast to play Ann, but she apparently was not intended to play Ann forever. Whitman shared this story about Arrested Development:

The best part of it is they were originally going to keep replacing the actress that played Ann, just so you were always on your toes. And then they stuck with me, which I feel like is a real insult. They were like, 'No, no, you're making the whole not-memorable thing work, we'll just go with that.'

Mae Whitman was evidently so good at not making an impression that she was kept around to continue not making an impression on Arrested Development, which Whitman could either take as a testament to her acting abilities or an insult that she doesn't stand out. On the one hand, she's proven her comedic chops so effectively over the years that pulling off the blandness of Ann is kind of an accomplishment. On the other hand, Ann was kind of a thankless role, and it might have stung to know that the folks at Arrested Development thought she seemed like a natural fit. Whitman told the story with a laugh during an appearance on PeopleTV, so it's clear that she's not actually upset about why she might have been kept on as Ann.

Interestingly, Arrested Development did actually switch Ann actresses, but not in order to replace Mae Whitman. When Ann first appeared on the show in Season 1, she was played by actress Alessandra Torresani. Mae Whitman took over the role for Ann's subsequent 15 appearances in Seasons 2-4. Perhaps the switcheroo is a sign that the Arrested Development team fully intended to change actresses each time Ann popped up until they found Mae Whitman and didn't want to let her go. While it might have made for a fun running gag to have a slightly different Ann whenever the character made an appearance, it's difficult to imagine anybody other than Mae Whitman in the role. Who knows? If Arrested Development ever manages to move past potential complications and come back for that long-awaited Season 5, maybe Ann could appear once more.

In the meantime, you can find Mae Whitman back on primetime in NBC's thrilling new dramedy Good Girls, which also stars Mad Men's Christina Hendricks and Parks and Recreations' Retta. You can catch new episodes of Good Girls on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. If you're now in the mood for some Arrested Development, you can catch all four seasons streaming on Netflix and the first three seasons streaming on Hulu. For your other viewing options, take a look at our midseason TV premiere guide and our 2018 Netflix premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).