'Arrested Development': Michael Cera and Alia Shawkat reveal what's in store for Maeby and George Michael
Theirs was a forbidden relationship. They were cousins, and dangerous ones at that. Their time together was fun and sexy, yes, but also complicated and confusing. They were the youngest members of the Bluth family: the sincere, perpetually flustered George Michael Bluth (Michael Cera) and rebellious, attention-seeking Maeby Fünke (Alia Shawkat). And now fates — and fan demand — have thrown these two kissing cousins together again: Arrested Development returns on May 26 after a seven-year absence with 15 new episodes on Netflix. How did this highly regarded but low-rated twisted family comedy wind up back on the screen? That story is here. But maybe, if not surely, you are also interested in reading some bonus quotes from Cera and Shakwat, who discuss the new season, their characters and more.
On Arrested returning with new episodes (each one chronicling the exploits of a single Bluth) instead of the long-rumored movie
CERA: It sounded so fresh and unexpected, especially since everyone had been talking about the possibility of a movie for so long. Everyone had gotten kind of tired of talking about it, it seemed like it had become stale before it had even really gone into production. So it seemed like a nice way to kind of shake up the expectation, and also it felt like a very unprecedented thing.”
SHAWKAT: I was actually thrilled. I mean, if Mitch [Hurwitz, the show’s creator] told me to dress as a chicken and fly off a building, I think I would do it… It’s really for the fans. That’s why Mitch did it. He’s like, “These people who have been waiting just want as much as possible.” So, 15 episodes is a lot better than one movie.
On fears that new episodes or a movie wouldn’t live up to — or could tarnish — Arrested‘s legacy
CERA: I definitely had that thought before going into it. I was always really proud of this show and how it’s kind of distilled in perfection, and nothing can take away from that. I’ve also been a huge, huge fan of the British Office and how succinct of a story it is and how tight it is and that it didn’t lose its magic. And I always felt that way about Arrested Development, too. So that was the fear, that maybe we could detract from the power of the show and the mythology of its short life. But those fears really subsided very quickly once we got into production.
SHAWKAT: I never felt that, but I do remember it being discussed with some of the other cast. It was just kind of that thing like: If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. And it was such a beloved thing and became this “cult classic” — obviously that word’s used a lot — so anytime recreating something that in many ways was deemed perfect, of course it’s intimidating to re-approach it. But for me as an actor and one of nine people, that’s not my place. I didn’t have that emotional worry about it. I was thinking like, “God, it’s a lot of pressure for Mitch.” But at the same time he’s like a hero. Mitch can do it, you know?
On Hurwitz asking Cera to become a writer on the show this season
CERA: [Mitch] mentioned it to me months before the production, when the whole cast reunited for The New Yorker Festival in New York…. That was an amazing offer, because I’ve always admired those guys. I grew up basically with Mitch and Jim Vallely and Richie Rosenstock — they were always these Olympians that were tucked away in the writers’ room and they were making this whole thing happen. And I was really so impressed and excited by the writing. So that was always an ambition, or an inspiration at least, and then a great invitation from Mitch to come and even just watch for a day. And then I was joking around with him [in the room], and he made me feel very comfortable speaking up, and so did everyone. It became a place where I felt very comfortable very quickly. And then Mitch just extended the invitation. He said, “Come back tomorrow.” And at the end of the week, he said, “We want to put you on the staff.” It was a really moving, really exciting offer from him.
On what viewers can expect from Maeby and George Michael this season
SHAWKAT: She lost her clout. She used to have all this power, and it completely vanished. It caught up to her for acting older than she was, so she’s at a stage where she has to do the opposite. She has to act younger than she was and it’s a weird ego trip for her. And the stuff with George Michael, that dynamic shifts and she’s kind of figuring it out. But in a way, she’s still so much Maeby, she’s always plotting and scheming. She’s always trying to get attention from her parents, so that’s still going strong. She’s looking in all the wrong areas.”
CERA: It’s a different kind of story line for George Michael than the last series — more adult problems than before, but only as “adult” as the rest of the Bluths’ problems…. He’s responsible for some blunders in this one. He’s not a total victim. He’s fundamentally the same, but I was conscious that he’s becoming more like his father this time around, a bit manipulative at times, the way Michael (Jason Bateman) is. And even just attitude-wise, I found myself lapsing into what Jason does a lot of the time.
On the possibility of old jokes resurfacing in the new season
SHAWKAT: “Mitchand the writers were very aware of not wanting it to be like ‘All the old classics!’ so there’s so many new things that are repeated throughout episodes that are so funny and are just as memorable as all the ones in the past. There are a few things like ‘I’ve made a huge mistake,’ but… he does twists on all of them, which makes it so much better.”
CERA: “There’s so many new ideas and so many new jokes and things that I think are going to take off from this season. It’s a great blend of incorporating the old show and giving [fans] a whole bunch of new ideas that work really well.”
On how fans will react to these episodes
SHAWKAT: I think everyone’s going to be more than satisfied. In my opinion, which is just my opinion, I don’t think there is anything that they’ll be disappointed about. I think there’s so much that they’re going love — and more than they expected.
CERA: I have a major bias, because I’m so proud of the writing of it and so proud of Mitch and the work that everyone did and how special of a project it is this season. It’s hard to be objective, but I think it’s so funny… It instantly picks up where it left off. It feels just like the show. I don’t think it’ll be disappointing…. There is a high expectation, which is hard, but it’s inevitable. I think it’s really good this season. And maybe people’s first viewing of it will be a little fogged by their expectation, but with time it’ll hold its own as a season.
On the likelihood of an Arrested movie in the future
CERA: If there was a script and there was a start date, I think everyone would be there, and hopefully it’ll come to pass. It would be really fun and it would be a nice way to wrap it up. This season has a lot of setup and a lot of things that could expand. It can go in a lot of different directions from here.