Actor Jason Bateman has responded to criticism that he downplayed accusations of verbal harassment made by co-star Jessica Walter against Jeffrey Tambor.
In an interview with the New York Times, the three stars of Arrested Development, together with other members of the cast, discussed Walter’s experience filming with Tambor, in which she claimed that Tambor verbally harassed her.
“In like almost 60 years of working, I’ve never had anybody yell at me like that on a set,” she explained. “And it’s hard to deal with, but I’m over it now.”
Bateman, along with fellow cast members including Tony Hale, appeared to downplay the situation during the interview, with Bateman suggesting the behaviour was typical of the industry.
“In the entertainment industry it is incredibly common to have people who are, in quotes, ‘difficult.’” Bateman said.
He added, “It’s a weird thing, and it is a breeding ground for atypical behaviour and certain people have certain processes.”
Later on in the interview, Bateman 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.”
The comments from Bateman and other male members of the cast in relation to Tambor’s alleged harassment came in for fierce criticism online after they were published, with journalist Jennifer Bendery calling them “shockingly dismissive of Walter’s awful treatment”.
Bateman later used Twitter to apologise for his comments, saying he was “incredibly embarrassed and deeply sorry to have done that to Jessica.”
“Based on listening to the NYT interview and hearing people’s thoughts online, I realise that I was wrong here,” he 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,” he continued. “I was so eager to let Jeffrey know that he was supported in his attempt to learn, grow and apologise 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.
“I didn’t say that and instead said a bunch of other stuff and not very well. I deeply, and sincerely, apologise.”
Bateman, Walter, Tambor, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, Will Arnett and David Cross were all speaking together ahead of the new season of Arrested Development, set to be released on Tuesday 29th May.
In February, Tambor was officially dropped from Amazon series Transparent following accusations of sexual harassment.
Tambor denied the claims made against him by former assistant Van Barnes and Transparent co-star Trace Lysette, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “I did raise my voice at times, I was moody at times, there were times when I was tactless. But as for the other stuff, absolutely not.”