Arrested Development's Creator Spoke Up About Jessica Walter And Jeffrey Tambor

netflix arrested development season 5 jessica walter jeffrey tambor
(Image credit: Image courtesy of Netflix)

Arrested Development recently returned to Netflix with a brand new season, but the buzz about Season 5 wasn't all filled with laughs. Ahead of the new release, an interview with the cast was released that revealed Jessica Walter had been quite upset by an incident with Jeffrey Tambor. Tambor allegedly yelled at Walter on set, and Walter teared up when recounting what happened. Netflix cancelled the cast's overseas press tour in the wake of the resulting scandal. Now, Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz has spoken out on the incident, saying this:

I'm guilty of not realizing how deeply upsetting that was for Jessica. I heard about it and saw parts of it in the dailies, although the part I saw didn't seem that--I don't know--momentous. But fights and outbursts always start with things that are smaller. . . . [It started with] something minor, like he was doing a speech and Jessica wanted to redo something in her speech. 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.

Mitch Hurwitz was aware of the incident in which Jeffrey Tambor shouted at Jessica Walter but did not understand just how affected Walter was afterward. Hurwitz wasn't on set himself, and it sounds like the footage from the dailies didn't give an adequate impression of the emotional impact on Walter. Hearing about the problem and seeing bits of it in footage apparently weren't enough for Hurwitz to expect how hurt Walter was in the aftermath. In fact, it seems like Hurwitz wasn't even aware that Tambor reportedly had walked off set when he walked out of the camera's frame.

In his interview with Deadline, Mitch Hurwitz also revealed that he wasn't on stage with the cast as much as he was for the production of previous seasons. According to Hurwitz, he delivered scripts later than intended and wasn't available on set the way the cast would have preferred. His increased absence from set undoubtedly played a part in his misunderstanding of the gravity of Jessica Walter's reaction to Jeffrey Tambor on the day in question. Hurwitz went on in the interview to say this about his feelings in the aftermath of the incident making news:

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. 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.

All things considered, it sounds like Mitch Hurwitz regrets that he was unable to help diffuse the situation on set and come to understand Jessica Walter's feelings. He truly may have had no comprehension that there was an issue at all beyond some slight bickering on set if Walter hadn't spoken up about her feelings regarding her interaction with Jeffrey Tambor while filming the new season of Arrested Development. If the show continues, we can only hope that the working conditions will be comfortable for everybody involved.

Only time will tell what happens next for the Arrested Development crew. You can find all five seasons of the show -- including the remixed fourth season -- streaming on Netflix now. Our 2018 Netflix guide can point you toward more streaming options, and our summer TV premiere schedule can help you plan the rest of your viewing lineup.

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).