Jessica Walter tears up while talking about Jeffrey Tambor harassing her on the set of Arrested Development — and this is 110% not okay
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, former Transparent actor Jeffrey Tambor refuted the claims of sexual misconduct allegations against him, instead admitting to having anger management issues on set. The actor revealed instances of lashing out at series creator Jill Soloway and another female producer on the series. In the interview, Tambor also admitted to a verbal altercation with his Arrested Development co-star and on-screen wife, Jessica Walter.
While Walter was initially silent about Tambor’s admission of verbally harassing her on the set of Arrested Development — she declined to comment in the THR piece — the actress has finally opened up about the altercation in a New York Times interview with her Arrested Development co-stars, and honestly, it’s frustrating and painful to read.
In a roundtable interview ahead of the show’s Season 5 release on Netflix, most of the cast — including Tambor — spoke about the Transparent allegations and the actor’s admission of verbally harassing Walter. Unfortunately, the male cast members present for the round table largely dominated that portion of the interview, making veiled excuses for the actor and his abhorrent behavior.
But while their meaningless justifications may have taken up more real estate, Walter and co-star Alia Shawkat’s responses spoke volumes.
Refuting her male co-stars’ attempts to normalize Tambor’s behavior, Shawkat jumped in, 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.”
The conversation, which elicited an emotional response from Walter, prompted the legendary actress to publicly and directly acknowledge the incident for the first time, revealing — through tears — that she wants to move on.
When Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Tony Hale, and David Cross continued to repeatedly and inappropriately attempt to downplay the incident, Walter shot back, revealing that her altercation with Tambor was the first time she’s ever had a co-worker lash out at her like he did. Saying on the record, the veteran actress revealed: “But it’s hard because honestly — Jason says this happens all the time. 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. I just let it go right here, for The New York Times.”
After Bateman mansplained the incident to Walter and the NYT for the umpteenth time, Walter revealed that had Tambor not brought up the incident, she wouldn’t have spoken about it. The actress also revealed that she doesn’t want to “walk around with anger,” adding that she’d “work with [Tambor] again in a heartbeat.”
We can imagine how painful it must have been for Jessica to have friends and collaborators of over 15 years belittle a clearly traumatic and painful incident, with the only other person in the room empathetic to her experience being the only other female co-worker.
That section of the interview is problematic for so many reasons — please sit down and stop talking Jason Bateman, David Cross, Will Arnett, and Tony Hale… oh, and especially you too, Jeffrey Tambor — and the fact that Walter felt like she had to apologize for speaking about it is supremely frustrating. The interview is emblematic of exactly how far we still have to go in terms of how we treat women in the workplace, and how much powerful men can get away with when they’re surrounded by enablers who defend their behavior.