Alia Shawkat Speaks on That Disaster Arrested Development Interview and What She Wishes She’d Said
The only people who walked out of that disastrous Arrested Development interview with the New York Times unscathed were Jessica Walter and Alia Shawkat.
Shawkat, the only other woman being interviewed besides Walters, spoke up for her co-star when the Walter was crying and being gaslit by fellow actor Jason Bateman. The conflict came when it was brought up that Jeffrey Tambor had screamed at Jessica Walter on set.
Bateman, David Cross, and Tony Hale all defended Tambor in different ways, but Bateman was by far the most vocal in the interview:
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 when you’re in a privileged position to hire people, or have an influence in who does get hired, you make phone calls. And you say, “Hey, so I’ve heard X about person Y, tell me about that.” 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.
It was then that Shawkat said: “But that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. And the point is that things are changing, and people need to respect each other differently.”
In the aftermath of that Times interview, all UK interviews were pulled, and Bateman, Cross, and Hale each issued apologizes. Alia Shawkat spoke with Broadly about the interview and what she wishes she could have said.
She talks about how during the press-tour, Tambor had his “rote response” but at this particular interview “the other men in the room started to be a lot more verbal than they had before,” Shawkat said. “They started going on about how they support Jeffrey, and they love him, and he’s a great actor—all these things that I agree with; I care about Jeffrey and I think he’s a great actor. But what continued to go on was, in my opinion, too much.”
Shawkat began to feel uncomfortable and said the cast had not discussed as a group how they would engage in an open dialogue about Tambor’s circumstances. “Looking back, I really wish we had.”
After the interview, despite being the only one really piping in to help Walter, Shawkat herself cried because she felt like she hadn’t done enough to defend her friend and co-star, but also that she missed a moment to be heard.
“I felt like I didn’t say enough to defend her. I felt like I didn’t say enough to explain that the movement is so important—and that Jeffrey’s story is a piece of this movement, and we can’t silence it. Women’s voices need to be heard, and, ironically enough—I wasn’t able to be heard. I was really scared that the interviewer didn’t even hear me.”
Shawkat maintains that, despite all the backlash towards the interview, it was an important discussion to be had. “We have to talk about things that are uncomfortable,” Shawkat explained. “There are obviously flaws and blind spots that these men were unaware of. I don’t think they’re bad people. I think that there needs to be much deeper education, especially for men.”
Despite not getting to speak her entire piece during the interview, after she reached out to them in order to speak her piece and explain the problems with how they had conducted themselves. Shawkat says it was probably one of the first times they saw her as an adult and not the child she was when she started working with them 15-years ago. “It felt very healing”
“In that room, when I look back on it, I wish I was able to gather myself, to not be afraid to speak out more and realize that I wouldn’t be hurting anybody—but actually helping,” she stated. “I know I said a little, but what I wish I had said was, ‘Stop talking. Stop. Jessica, go on.'”
(via Broadly, image: Moxie Pictures)
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