Jason Bateman Responds to 'Arrested Development' N.Y. Times Interview Backlash: "I Was Wrong Here"
The actor says he's "incredibly embarrassed" and deeply sorry to have underestimated the feelings of co-star Jessica Walter.
Jason Bateman has responded to growing criticism following an interview with the cast of Arrested Development in The New York Times.
Prompted by an interview with Jeffrey Tambor in The Hollywood Reporter, the conversation turned to allegations against Tambor, who a visibly distressed Jessica Walter admitted had harassed her "verbally" while on set of the TV series, which is preparing to return with its latest season on Netflix this month.
"In … 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," Walter said when talk turned to what Tambor had previously referred to as a "blowup."
Bateman defended Tambor during the discussion, saying it was "part of his process," but Walter disagreed. Tony Hale, similarly to Bateman, noted that "we all have our moments," to which Walter responded: "Not like that. That was bad."
Since the interview, Bateman has come under fire for appearing to minimize and justify Tambor's past behavior in front of his crying co-star, saying that it was common to work with "difficult" people and that he had "zero" complaints.
"Again, not to belittle it or excuse it or anything, but in the entertainment industry it is incredibly common to have people who are, in quotes, 'difficult,'" Bateman had added. "And when you're in a privileged position to hire people, or have an influence in who does get hired, you make phone calls. And you say, 'Hey, so I've heard X about person Y; tell me about that.' And what you learn is context. And you learn about character, and you learn about work habits, work ethics, and you start to understand. Because it's a very amorphous process, this sort of [expletive] that we do, you know, making up fake life. It's a weird thing, and it is a breeding ground for atypical behavior, and certain people have certain processes."
Alia Shawkat, who also co-starred with Tambor on Transparent and who had already publicly supported "the voices of the victims," responded to her co-stars by saying: "But that doesn't mean it's acceptable. And the point is that things are changing, and people need to respect each other differently."
Tambor was fired from the Amazon series earlier this year after his former assistant Van Barnes and co-star Trace Lysette accused him of sexual harassment and assualt.
In a series of tweets sent Thursday, Bateman apologized for his actions, saying that he was "deeply sorry" to have "completely underestimated" the feelings of Walter, and that he was "incredibly embarrassed."
"I sound like I'm condoning yelling at work. I do not. It sounds like I'm excusing Jeffery. I do not. It sounds like I'm insensitive to Jessica, I am not," he said in part. He conitinued, "This is a big learning moment for me. I shouldn't have tried so hard to mansplain, or fix a fight, or make everything OK."
He also said, "There's never any excuse for abuse, in any form, from any gender. And the victim's voice needs to be heard and respected. Period."
Hale also took to Twitter to apologize for his part and say that he reached out personally to Walter.
"Arrested Development is one of my families," wrote Hale. "Regardless of my intentions, it is clear that my words, both said and unsaid, served to minimize Jessica's pain and for that I am extremely sorry."
I have reached out to Jessica personally to apologize. Arrested Development is one of my families. Regardless of my intentions, it is clear that my words, both said and unsaid, served to minimize Jessica’s pain and for that I am extremely sorry.— Tony Hale (@MrTonyHale) May 24, 2018
In an interview in Gothamist on Thursday, David Cross also addressed the interview, promising he would apologize to Walter for not speaking up in her defense. He added that Walter had had her own outburst on set with a stand-in actress for Portia de Rossi, but "to Jessica's credit, she eventually apologized to the actress, and felt bad about it. Jeffrey did as well, but it was a bigger deal, there were more people in the room and it was an extremely uncomfortable moment."
Read Bateman's full statement in the series of tweets below.
Based on listening to the NYT interview and hearing people’s thoughts online, I realize that I was wrong here.— Jason Bateman (@batemanjason) May 24, 2018
I sound like I’m condoning yelling at work. I do not.
It sounds like I’m excusing Jeffery. I do not.
It sounds like I’m insensitive to Jessica. I am not.
In fact, I’m-
- horrified that I wasn’t more aware of how this incident affected her.— Jason Bateman (@batemanjason) May 24, 2018
I was so eager to let Jeffrey know that he was supported in his attempt to learn, grow and apologize that I completely underestimated the feelings of the victim, another person I deeply love - and she was..
... sitting right there!— Jason Bateman (@batemanjason) May 24, 2018
I’m incredibly embarrassed and deeply sorry to have done that to Jessica. This is a big learning moment for me.
I shouldn’t have tried so hard to mansplain, or fix a fight, or make everything okay.
I should’ve focused more on what the most important...
...part of it all is - there’s never any excuse for abuse, in any form, from any gender. And, the victim’s voice needs to be heard and respected.— Jason Bateman (@batemanjason) May 24, 2018
I didn’t say that and instead said a bunch of other stuff and not very well.
I deeply, and sincerely, apologize.
May 24, 9:05 a.m. Updated with Hale's tweet.
Jackie Strause contributed to this story.