Gothamist had an interview scheduled with David Cross to talk about the upcoming fifth season of Arrested Development well before yesterday's extremely uncomfortable NY Times interview with the cast dropped. In that piece— which included stars Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Jeffrey Tambor, Tony Hale, Jessica Walter, Alia Shawkat and Cross—there was a discussion about the inappropriate on-set behavior by Tambor (who was previously fired from Transparent for similar alleged behavior). Tambor's male castmates, especially Bateman, defended him to the Times while Walter teared up recounting the verbal harassment she endured.
"In like almost 60 years of working, I’ve never had anybody yell at me like that on a set," she said. "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." When Bateman tried to argue that dealing with "difficult" personalities was a normal part of the business, Shawkat interjected, "But that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable."
Here’s audio of Jessica Walter CRYING, standing up for herself after all the men in the AD cast try to gaslight her into thinking Tambor’s harassment isn’t THAT bad. This is horrific. pic.twitter.com/innJv8LIYF
— Kevin T. Porter (@KevinTPorter) May 23, 2018
The interview garnered an immediate backlash online, with some very trenchant criticism from the likes of Vulture's Matt Zoller Seitz and NPR's Linda Holmes, who wrote: "It's not the worst story. Not by a mile. It may not even be Tambor's worst story. But seeing a woman so brilliant withstand repeated efforts, by people who say they love her, to recast her experiences as normal when she knew they were not? It was a lot to take. It got under my skin."
Bateman and Hale have both since apologized on Twitter (see below). Unsurprisingly, our conversation with Cross became a post-mortem about the Times interview and his own complicity in Tambor's behavior on set.
[For further context: Cross is married to actress Amber Tamblyn, who is one of the founding members of Time's Up, and who sent out several tweets since the NY Times interview went up. Also, the actor refers here to the fact he has recently apologized over accusations made by actor/comedian Charlyne Yi, who says he made racist comments toward her when they met a decade ago.]
So I imagine that yesterday was a bit of a shitshow in the Arrested Development world because of the New York Times interview. It was. My wife is very good about getting me off of Twitter when I need to be. So I saw all the stuff happening last night, and literally deleted the app from my home screen. So I don't know exactly what's going on. I do know the crux is that a lot of people are upset. And you know, I was in the room and I know that there's an audiotape, and I'm assuming that it would make me cringe if I heard it.
It's not a good situation. And there's a lot of people who I care about—that means everybody in that room—who are upset. It's a difficult thing to have play out in a public forum, and I'm hesitant to comment on it because I know that there's nothing I can say or do that will make it better. In fact it would probably make it worse.
So my instinct is to address the situation, any situation, whatever happens. But what I've learned in the last couple of years is it won't help. Whatever I could say, anything I could elucidate that goes beyond what was the actual interview that took place, isn't going to help. And I don't think anybody's really interested in hearing anything from me unless it's an absolute unqualified apology. It's an extremely complicated situation with layers and layers and layers of...and now I'm doing exactly what I said that I shouldn't do. I'm trying to be careful and diplomatic and not hurt anyone's feelings.
I hear that. Did you know that Jason apologized this morning? I did not know that. I gotta get back on Twitter.
He sent out a series of tweets, and apologized for his behavior during the interview. Good.
Based on listening to the NYT interview and hearing people’s thoughts online, I realize that I was wrong here.
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-
— Jason Bateman (@batemanjason) May 24, 2018
- 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..
— Jason Bateman (@batemanjason) May 24, 2018
... 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...
— Jason Bateman (@batemanjason) May 24, 2018
...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.
I didn’t say that and instead said a bunch of other stuff and not very well.
I deeply, and sincerely, apologize.
— Jason Bateman (@batemanjason) May 24, 2018
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
Basically, one of the things that a lot of people are upset about is that there was this gaslighting of Jessica happening in front of Jessica, and that nobody, besides Alia, defended her. Instead, it seemed as though the guys in the room all came to Jeffrey's defense, rather than hers. I totally get that. I don't know how it comes out in print, and I know that there's the audio going around, so that is what it is. There's no qualifying that. I'll say this: two people that I deeply respect, and I listen to and I love and appreciate, expressed to me after that interview their discomfort with it. One of those was Alia and the other was my wife. I listened to them, and I can't and wouldn't ever dismiss their take on something. And they are also two people who are aware of the bigger picture. So, it means even more than it normally would, which is a lot.
So I will unequivocally apologize to Jessica. I'm sorry that we behaved the way we behaved. Whatever the criticisms are, I will own up. I don't even know what they are, as I said, I saw the initial thing but I jumped off at the behest of various people. And also I had to put my daughter to bed, so it was time to, you know, focus on what's really important in the moment.
I don't know outside of what I can speculate, just being on Twitter now for over a year and a half, and [knowing] what the situation is, I assume it's a lot like—well it's like what you said, you encapsulated it. I agreed with Alia that there was no excuse. There's never an excuse ever for yelling at somebody and humiliating them in front of other people. And there was no excuse when Jessica did it. 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.
Did this occur during the filming of the fifth season? This was just towards the end. I don't know exactly, but I would say in the last month of shooting, give or take.
So are you saying there were multiple outbursts while filming? No, no, no. With Jeffrey, it was once that I'm aware of, that I was on set for.
But you're saying there was a [separate] outburst involving Jessica as well? Yeah—I'm trying to think, I'm sure other people have kind of gotten pissy. But to Jessica's credit, she felt bad, she apologized. Portia [di Rossi] wasn't around, so there was a stand-in for her for months and months and months, and there was this incident, but it didn't have the same kind of feeling that Jeffrey's did. Jeffrey's took a lot of the focus. And again, I don't condone that behavior when anybody does it. And that's with crewmembers as well. There's just no excuse.
And again, I should familiarize myself with the interview. I can't imagine that we came off very good because, I mean, it was an instant and very vocal [reaction]. People were just like, "Fuck you guys, the men are terrible." So I would imagine that it's not good. Again, I'm going to have a conversation with and a dialogue with and defer to people like Alia and my wife, who are familiar with the entirety of the 15 years of all of our behaviors. I will defer to them, and if they have a problem with it, then it's time for me to shut up, and realize there is a problem.
— Amber Tamblyn (@ambertamblyn) May 24, 2018
When you were on set when this happened, did you guys talk about it in real time? Did the cast or crew talk to Jeffrey and Jessica separately, before what happened in the NY Times interview? Yes. I can't say cast and crew. You mean when the actual incidents occurred?
Yeah, did you all discuss these things before the interview? Yes and no. Not as a group, and we should have done that. And I fault myself, I should have said more and done more than I did on multiple occasions. And I am to blame for that. And that's for anybody, anybody who felt...bullied is too strong of a word...but if anybody felt not comfortable, or were made to feel a certain way you shouldn't feel on a set. Whether that's cast, crew, supporting actors.
I didn't speak up as much as I should have, and I regret it. I started to say this to the Times, and I put the brakes on it, but this was not a...dammit, this sucks...there's a cumulative effect to our behavior.
It's a very complicated situation. There's nothing I can say. And again, I'm sure I've made things worse. I'm sure just by saying what I've said that I have made things worse in many people's minds. But for what it's worth, a lot of those people say, "You know what, I got that vibe, they're dead to me, fuck them, I kinda knew it, they're assholes." And they're gone, and that's too bad.
I have a few more questions about this I'd like to ask you. One of the things that I think Jason, more so than you, brought up in the interview is this idea of frustrations boiling over and people shouting on set, and how that can be normal at times. I was wondering whether you have seen this, had experiences like that before? No, I disagree with that. Well, there's yelling and then there's what Jeffrey did. Those are two different things.
It's one thing to pop off a little bit, to let frustrations boil over, that happens in any workplace. If it had just been that, then it would have been not cool, but par for the course for where we were and what was happening. I think what Jeffrey did was egregious and there was a little bit of cruelty to it, which I have a real issue with. There's nothing wrong with speaking up and saying, "Hey this isn't working. You're the reason and we need to figure this out because we've got a lot of stuff to shoot and we've only got two hours left unless we're going to go over again." And it's also best to pull that person side and discuss it offstage, and that's the appropriate way to do it.
I'm not going to defend what Jeffrey did at all, because I would never do that. I've never seen anybody do that to that level and that's just not right. There's just no excuse for behaving like that. But as far as the idea that people have problems and raise their voice, that happens everywhere. There's not a workplace where that hasn't happened, that I've been a part of. But you have to make a distinction between being upset, popping off at somebody, lashing out, and kind of shitty behavior. And I don't know whether or not—this is purely speculative—I don't know whether or not Jeffrey would have done that to the male members of the cast. He didn't have that relationship that he has with Jessica that he has with the male members of the cast, so that's perhaps part of the difference.
But you just can't defend it. There's no reason for that that specific thing. I've seen people [on set] be shitty to other people—belittling, unkind, condescending and dismissive. I'm not talking about every single person, Michael Cera never did it, Alia didn't. But I've seen it.
Everyone got frustrated at some point, but there was a marked difference between what [Jeffrey] said and did versus the way the rest handled it? Absolutely, 100 percent, 100 percent. It was shocking, uncomfortable. Nobody felt good about it. Nobody was gleeful about it. And it's really unfortunate that it did happen. Outside of the extreme nature of the yelling and dressing down in front of the rest of the cast and crew, I think everyone else as well understood the frustration.
In my life, I've made mistakes where I have said the wrong thing to people, I have disrespected someone I cared about and I've apologized. I've found that unpacking what happened, it has led me to generally get to a better mindset, more awareness. The thing I wanted to ask you further: why do you think the first inclination among the male castmembers was to defend Jeffrey, as opposed to coming to Jessica's defense? That's a really good question, something I think that I should explore, that's worth exploring.
We're all familiar with the situation, what the situation has been for 15 years. Again, I repeat, I think that kind of behavior is inexcusable. It was egregious and it almost felt a little cruel. Nobody was happy, it wasn't like, "Good, she got what was coming," none of that. It was the absolute wrong way to handle that situation in every respect.
But as I said, we have access to more information than you do and those two things go hand in hand. There's that, plus the fact I think it's indefensible, and I should have said that. I think I pointed out, referring to The Hollywood Reporter [article in which Tambor admitted to being "difficult" on set and first revealed he had blown-up at Walter], that Jeffrey had said he learned from it, and he was trying to learn from it. And I wanted that pointed out. And I know that makes me look bad, and that's really something that I need to hear why, because I don't know, and I'm not like folding my arms and stamping my feet and turning away, I truly don't know why and I need to be educated—and please, people do it without yelling at me. But tell me why that was the wrong thing and I will listen and learn from it.
And again, two people I care deeply about, Alia and my wife, are people that I've been talking to, and we'll figure this out. I don't think that really satisfies your question. There's probably something in there that'll help to explain it even on a tiny level. And I know I'm not saying anything negative about you, I don't know who you are, what you'll do with this, how it'll eventually come out, but I'm positive that just by talking to you I've made it worse.
Being in a room with a NY Times reporter is perhaps the last place on the planet you should start going into psychotherapy with your cast.
Generally speaking, that's probably a good ethos.[Laughs] But it wasn't like there were any gotcha questions or any of that sneaky shit. The guy was just asking questions and it really was coming out. And we were talking about it. There was a lot, a lot going on. 15 years. 15 years of all of us working together. It's ignorant to just reduce it to the hour we spent in that room. And I go back to something I said earlier, which is I blame myself for not addressing the situation in a better way, or even addressing it at all.
I think, I mean this, I think we kind of got what we deserved because of that. I think for all of us to start this psychotherapy session... I don't know if he put in the interview that "there's pauses, there's ten seconds of reflection." Some things start to get addressed, and then the brakes are pulled on them, and that should have been handled a long, long time ago. I take responsibility on my part for that.
I spoke to Alia at length. I corresponded with Jessica. Just because I’m publicly silent on shit doesn’t mean I’m not privately handling shit. Now that you’re updated on what I do behind the scenes, Twitter, keep my fucking name out of your @. Feel me? Have a great Memorial Day.
— Amber Tamblyn (@ambertamblyn) May 24, 2018
Have you had a chance to speak with Jessica since the interview? After the interview yeah, we all hung out for awhile after that.
Was there a briefing amongst you about what happened, since it was pretty heavy emotionally? It was. Whenever there's an occasion that somebody cries, it doesn't matter how many times they've cried before, that's a bad thing. That is never good. And again, I was there and it was not cool. It was a tough thing to be a part of, a tough thing to have untold. And it didn't last for 30 seconds, it was a couple minutes.
And again Jeffrey apologized, but that was hours later. He made a big mea culpa to the cast and the crew, but the damage was done. Again, that didn't come out of nowhere, he's not American Psycho or whatever. I think Jason pointed this out, but we didn't know about the Transparent stuff, I hadn't seen that behavior ever from him in 15 years. I have now. And that goes into the pile of what I know about Jeffrey. But up until that point I'd never seen that.
It was not good, not right. And then obviously Jessica's been holding that in. And I think she probably experienced what a lot of people do...she had a different experience in every way with that situation. I think it's...nope, I better shut up.
What did he say exactly? I don't remember, but as I said, this wasn't like, "Hey you're stepping on my lines." This was 15 years of [buildup], this was addressing things that should have been addressed a long time ago. I've directed sets and run sets before, and I give a little speech beforehand about that very kind of thing, like: "I want to have fun, I don't want any of this bullshit, there's no rank here."
You just don't treat people like that, I don't care what's going on. If you hear yourself doing that, just stop. Have the discussion, but don't do it in front of everybody in a humiliating way. It was humiliating.
Do you regret at all the fact that you spoke out on Jeffrey's behalf after the Transparent stuff initially came out? Do you regret saying anything at that point? I don't. I had more information than a lot of people. I spoke to Jill Solloway, I spoke to Jeffrey. I had and continue to have more information than you or anybody on twitter does. I don't regret the sentiment, I regret what I was trying to imply was that I support him, he's a friend, I don't condone the behavior, I don't know those women, I know other people who worked on the show, but what I meant was I support my friend.
In other words, the longer way to explain it is, just because somebody I know does something shitty, and behavior I disagree with, it doesn't mean I'm going to drop him as friend. I support my friends, I continue to support my friends. Jeffrey's not the only guy I know accused of shitty, bad hurtful behavior. I don't condone it, but it's not like, "Hey I'm never going to talk to you again and I'm only gonna talk shit about you." If I had a family member who did something bad, I'd go visit them in prison. Does that make sense?
I'm not the kind of person who just...I don't have that Twitter mentality, where, "Hey you did this thing, you're awful, you're a piece of shit."
[At this point, David starts yelling at someone.] You have no idea what I'm talking about right now! Oh my God!
Gaby Hoffmann just drove by. That's hilarious. Gaby just drove by and said, "David Cross, you're getting into trouble everywhere you go." Actually, Gaby is somebody I should talk to. I should reach out and get her take on all this as well.
[Cross starts talking to Gaby Hoffmann again, asking her if she has time to talk about everything.]
Let me jump off with you sir, is that cool?
Let me ask one last question: do you think this will affect the way the show is received now? Oh yes, without a doubt. At least initially.
Do you feel comfortable working with him if there is an Arrested Development season six? If we have deeper discussions, absolutely, yes I do.
Thanks for talking to me, and I hope everything goes well with Gaby. Oh I'm sure it will. She is a light in my life. Gaby, can you just tell this man you're smiling and laughing.
Gaby Hoffmann: I'm smiling and laughing.
Hi Gaby. Alright, he says "hi, Gaby." I can't wait to see how my career is destroyed. I'm looking forward to it.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. The new season of Arrested Development premieres Tuesday, May 29th.