Jason Bateman slammed for defending Jeffrey Tambor as Jessica Walter tears up over verbal attack
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UPDATE: Early Thursday morning, Jason Bateman issued an apology for his comments in the New York Times interview, saying he’s “incredibly embarrassed and deeply sorry.”
“Based on listening to the NYT interview and hearing people’s thoughts online, I realize that I was wrong here,” Bateman wrote in a series of tweets. “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.”
EARLIER: Arrested Development star Jason Bateman has come under fire online for repeatedly downplaying costar Jessica Walter’s feelings about the verbal harassment she endured from Jeffrey Tambor on set, as recounted in a New York Times interview with the sitcom’s cast published Wednesday.
Discussing Tambor’s behavior toward Walter, Bateman said, “Again, 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.’ … And what you learn is context. And you learn about character and you learn about work habits, work ethics, and you start to understand. Because it’s a very amorphous process, this sort of [expletive] that we do, you know, making up fake life. It’s a weird thing, and it is a breeding ground for atypical behavior and certain people have certain processes.”
Costar Alia Shawkat responded, “But that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. And the point is that things are changing, and people need to respect each other differently.”
Walter was described as speaking “through tears” in the interview and said, “[In] 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 she needed to “let go” of her anger at Tambor, and that he had apologized to her.
Bateman repeated his sentiment, however, saying, “What we do for a living is not normal, and therefore the process is not normal sometimes, and to expect it to be normal is to not understand what happens on set. Again, not to excuse it, Alia, but to be surprised by people having a wobbly route to their goal, their process — it’s very rarely predictable.”
Bateman’s remarks were met with criticism online, with many prominent writers and journalists weighing in. Roxane Gay tweeted, “Why is Jason Bateman so terrible in this interview?” Other detractors turned to GIFs referencing characters on Arrested Development to express their dismay.
Nichole Perkins, host of Thirst Aid Kit podcast, simply wrote, “*Crosses Jason Bateman off the list*.” And several observers argued that Bateman’s remarks exhibited a culture of complicity and normalization that has allowed verbal abuse and harassment to thrive in Hollywood for decades.
EW has reached out to representatives for Bateman and Walter for comment.
Read below for a sampling of reactions.