Jason Bateman apologizes for defending Jeffrey Tambor's verbal harassment of Jessica Walter on 'Arrested Development' set: 'I shouldn't have tried so hard to mansplain'

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Jason Bateman is sorry for mansplaining.

Comments that he and other male Arrested Development stars made defending Jeffrey Tambor’s verbal harassment of their co-star Jessica Walter in an interview with the New York Times weren’t well received — and Bateman says he got the message loud and clear.

The interview with most of the cast ran on Wednesday, and it was emotional as the reunited ensemble spoke about Tambor’s work behavior, which has been a hot topic since he was fired from Transparent in February after being accused of sexual harassment. Tambor denied the allegations but admitted in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter to being “volatile and ill-tempered,” noting that it happened on the set of Arrested Development too, including a “blowup” with Walter, his onscreen wife.

The NYT reporter asked Walter about that incident, and she said, “In like almost 60 years of working, I’ve never had anybody yell at me like that on a set.” Bateman quickly jumped to Tambor’s defense, saying all actors have their “processes.”

Jeffrey Tambor, Jason Bateman, Tony Hale, David Cross (top row, left to right) and Will Arnett, Alia Shawkat, and Jessica Walter, pictured on May 21, have been promoting Season 5 of Arrested Development. (Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

He continued: “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.’ … It’s a very amorphous process … 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.” (Pretty much everything Bateman said about Tambor was gushing, though: “All I can say, personally, is I have never learned more from an actor that I’ve worked with than Jeffrey Tambor. And I consider him one of my favorite, most valued people in my life.”)

Jason Bateman made a point to give Jeffrey Tambor a big hug in front of photographers at the premiere of Netflix’s Arrested Development Season 5 on May 17. (Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Alia Shawkat, the only other female star present for the interview, was quick to say: “But that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.” However, David Cross immediately defended Tambor, saying, “He learned from the experience and he’s listening and learning and growing. That’s important to remember.” Tony Hale did too, noting, “We’ve all had moments.”

Here were some of the online criticisms of Bateman’s comments, leading with our own TV critic Ken Tucker:

Walter did say during the interview that she was ready to forgive Tambor. “I have to let it go,” she said. “And I have to give you a chance to, you know, for us to be friends again.” She said she would work with him again “in a heartbeat.”

As reported, Arrested Development creator Mitchell Hurwitz also defended Tambor in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Asked why he decided not to stop working with the star after his Transparent firing, he said, “Am I going to cut Jeffrey out of the show, based on allegations that he disputes … and that we have never experienced any complaints about? No, of course I am not going to.” He also said that everything was shot before the sexual harassment accusations were made against Tambor by a Tranparent actress and his former personal assistant.

Season 5 of Arrested Development will be available on Netflix on May 29.

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