Jason Bateman Apologizes After Backlash Over Jeffrey Tambor Comments

'Arrested Development' cast criticized for downplaying Tambor's verbal harassment of co-star Jessica Walter

Jason Bateman apologized for downplaying an incident when Jeffrey Tambor verbally harassed Jessica Walter on the set of 'Arrested Development.' Credit: Katie Jones/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Jason Bateman apologized for his comments in a New York Times interview in which he and several other men in the Arrested Development cast seemed to downplay an incident in which the show's Jeffrey Tambor verbally harassed co-star Jessica Walter.

"Based on listening to the NYT interview and hearing people's thoughts online, I realize that I was wrong here," Bateman wrote on Twitter. "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."

The incident came up after the cast was asked about recent reports regarding Tambor's behavior. The actor was accused of sexual misconduct on the set of Transparent and was ultimately fired from the show. Though he's denied those accusations, he admitted in a recent Hollywood Reporter interview that he had a tendency to yell at cast and crew members on set. 

Prior to the Times interview, Walter had not spoken publicly about the time Tambor yelled at her, and she said she still wouldn't have brought it up had Tambor not done so with The Hollywood Reporter. "I have to let go of being angry at him," she said. "He never crossed the line on our show, with any, you know, sexual whatever. Verbally, yes, he harassed me, but he did apologize. I have to let it go… 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." The Times noted that Walter cried while discussing the incident.

While Tambor did express regret over the incident again, he, Bateman and others also seemed to try to brush it aside. Bateman repeatedly said he did not mean to "belittle" the situation, but nevertheless compared Tambor's outburst to a family argument and seemed to chalk up such behavior to a hazard of being an actor. "[I]t's a very amorphous process, this sort of [expletive] that we do, you know, making up fake life," he said. "It's a weird thing, and it is a breeding ground for atypical behavior and certain people have certain processes."

At another point, Arrested Development star David Cross insisted that Tambor had "learned from the experience and he's listening and learning and growing." Tony Hale noted that everyone in the cast has "had moments" during the 15 years they've worked on Arrested Development. Cross also tried to contextualize the outburst, saying it "didn't just come out of the blue. It wasn't zero to 60. There is a cumulative effect sometimes."

Bateman then added: "Not to say that you know, you [Walter] had it coming. But this is not in a vacuum – families come together and certain dynamics collide and clash every once in a while. And there’s all kinds of things that go into the stew so it’s a little narrow to single that one particular thing that is getting attention from our show."

After these comments received a fair amount of criticism, Bateman took to Twitter where he apologized, saying, "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! 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."

Hale also issued a public mea culpa on Twitter, writing, "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."

Arrested Development is set to return to Netflix for its fifth season May 29th.