Bateman Apologizes After Furor Over Defending Tambor

Posted May 24, 2018 2:21 p.m. EDT
Updated May 24, 2018 2:25 p.m. EDT

Following a blistering reaction on social media, Jason Bateman, one of the stars of “Arrested Development,” apologized Thursday after an interview with The New York Times during which he defended Jeffrey Tambor, a co-star, and his on-set behavior toward another co-star, Jessica Walter. Critics accused Bateman of excusing Tambor’s verbal harassment at the expense of Walter, during an era in which male toxicity in Hollywood is facing a reckoning.

Bateman addressed the interview with several posts on Twitter:

“Based on listening to the NYT interview and hearing people’s thoughts online, I realize that I was wrong here,” Bateman wrote. “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. 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!”

The posts continued: “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. Period. I didn’t say that and instead said a bunch of other stuff and not very well. I deeply, and sincerely, apologize.”

The interview, conducted Tuesday, featured most of the cast of the show, which is returning to Netflix on May 29 for its fifth season. But this season faced an obstacle as it nearly wrapped production: Tambor was fired from the Amazon show “Transparent” after allegations of sexual harassment and verbal abuse emerged. He denied the allegations of sexual misconduct, but admitted his temper had been an issue, and revealed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that he once blew up at Walter on the “Arrested Development” set.

When the cast, which included Bateman, Tambor, Walter, Alia Shawkat, Will Arnett and Tony Hale, gathered for the interview, Walter said, fighting through tears, “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.” She also said that Tambor verbally harassed her.

But Bateman, several times, described Tambor’s tendencies on set as normal for the entertainment business and said he wouldn’t do another season of “Arrested Development” without Tambor.

“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 said.

Shawkat, the only female cast member in the room other than Walter, interjected and said, “But that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. And the point is that things are changing, and people need to respect each other differently.”

Hale, a few minutes later, supported Bateman’s position: “I will say, to Jason’s point, we can be honest about the fact that — and not to build a thing — we’ve all had moments.”

To which Walter replied: “Not like that.”

Hale also expressed contrition Thursday, saying he had apologized to Walter personally.

“I have reached out to Jessica personally to apologize,” Hale wrote on Twitter. “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.”

The furor online was swift after the interview was published. Walter was praised for pushing back against her male co-stars, with Tambor in the room, about what is and isn’t normal behavior, while Bateman, the most vocal of Tambor’s defenders, received an onslaught of criticism.