'Arrested Development': Will Arnett Attempts to Define the New Episodes
Gob Bluth's alter ego walks THR through the long road to revive the cult comedy and guesses where it might go next. (Hint: "a touring stage show" may be on the table.)
The 2,662-day lapse between new episodes of Arrested Development finally comes to an end May 26. Netflix prepares to drop the entire 15-episode run simultaneously, testing the integrity of its streaming servers and the restraint of fans who don't want to mainline this latest iteration all at once.
Defining the new episodes is something Will Arnett has spent a lot of time thinking about. The actor, who next stars in the CBS fall comedy The Millers, reprises his role as the iconic illusionist Gob Bluth in the revived series -- but the new Arrested Development's unusual format (simultaneous, character-centric episodes) and undetermined lifespan (the jury is still out on what happens next) are still very much a mystery to him.
Before gracing the cover of this week's issue of The Hollywood Reporter with co-star Jason Bateman, Arnett chatted with THR about the long road to revive what he lovingly refers to as "the most important thing" to ever happen to his career. He also name-dropped, evangelized the new format and took a few wild guesses as to where the beloved cult comedy might land after this.
The Hollywood Reporter: How long has this been realistically gestating, before everything came together with Netflix?
Will Arnett: I guess it's been realistically gestating for, I'm going to say two years. Just over two years. The idea of doing something more with Arrested Development, as a series and/or movie, has existed since the day they tore down our set, which was about five minutes after we wrapped the first series.
THR: I bet that happened pretty fast.
Arnett: Yeah, yeah. When the first assistant director yelled, "Cut!," the wrecking ball was already on the downswing toward our set.
THR: When it actually became a reality, how did it sort of happen that you all could do this? You all are very busy.
Arnett: You mean what I'm now referring to as Arrested Development: Our Latest Hit? Scheduling seemed impossible at most points, and don't think any of us would really have gone to these lengths for anything else. But because it's Arrested Development and because it's Mitch [Hurwitz], everybody did whatever they could.
THR: What are we even calling this? I've heard we're not allowed to refer to it as a season.
Arnett: Yeah. By the way, what authority told you you're not allowed?
THR: I don't remember, but somebody.
Arnett: Jason Bateman?
THR: Yes, I think he sent out a memo.
Arnett: It's not season four. It's hard to describe. For a long time, I've been referring to it as a miniseries, just because I like the idea of miniseries because they were so popular when I was a kid. I mean when I was a really little kid, like a baby. Really, they were before my time, so I don't know that much about miniseries. I'm very young. But the point is, yeah, for the most part, all of us just call it "Arrested." You know, which is really annoying, because then everybody else goes, "You mean, Development?" Ricky Gervais always calls me out on that when I call it Arrestedly Arrested. I know it sounds like just an excuse to name-drop Ricky Gervais' name, but it's actually true.
THR: It does sound like name-dropping.
Arnett: It does, right? It's funny because it feels like that, too.
THR: Miniseries do get a lot of Emmy love.
Arnett: Oh they do? The truth is that it is a series. So I don't know. I just don't know. We made, what, 14, 15 episodes?
THR: How many of the 15 episodes are you in?
Arnett: Well here's what's really f---ed up: I'm in 16. So that's really messing with my mind. I really don't know because it's an ever-changing thing. Because Mitch is sort of finishing up editing these right now, he's just finishing up cutting them, and you know that kind of changes as the story sort of changes. It is like one big huge moving document in a way.
THR: It sounds exhausting.
Arnett: Oh, make no mistake. It's an incredible pain in the ass for Mitch Hurwitz. It's a very, very difficult ... dare I say, almost impossible task. All of it intertwines. And it's a lot. And it's not just like doing post on a regular season of a show, where you have 10 months to do it, and you're just condensing it. It's that, but combined with the added level of all of it kind of melding together. I mean, you know, not just because he's my friend, but there's no better person for this task than Mitch Hurwitz. He truly does have a sort of problem solver's brain, and it's quite extraordinary to witness. He's locked in a room. And obviously when I say locked, I mean there's a lock on the outside keeping him in.
THR: Have you seen much of it?
Arnett: I've seen a fair bit, and for my liking, it's great. It does feel like all the elements of the old show. I think that fans of the show will feel satisfied. They will be rewarded -- because it is all those sort of characters and stories that they all like, and it does have the same writers. It feels great, and yet it's a different way of telling these people's stories. So it's interesting on another level as well.
THR: How important is Gob Bluth to you?
Arnett: Career-wise, it's the most important thing that happened to me. I can't put a fine enough point on that. I think that anybody who knows anything about me would acknowledge that. Getting to work with such great people was just beyond, and then I guess you can say it opened a lot of doors. It comes out as something corny to say. It's old-fashioned, but it's true. But above and beyond all that, it just allowed me to work on something that I really enjoyed and was really proud of. And am really proud of.
THR: What is your current understanding of where these episodes leave Arrested?
Arnett: I don't know what's coming next, but what's exciting is that these episodes -- in allowing us and Mitch to tell the story in a different way -- open up the realm of possibility even wider, whether that's a movie, more episodes, a theme park, an app or, you know, a touring stage show. I can't believe I'm pitching this to you right now, when I don't even know if you have the money to finance this, but imagine if we did a live episode in New York and then we did a different show in L.A. If you wanted to follow the story, you'd have to fly to L.A. to watch it. By the end, we're performing live in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in front of 100,000 people. Does that sound cool!? Or in an aircraft carrier or something. I'm so excited about this. This is great. I have to go make sure my passport is current. We're going to Brazil!