“Arrested Development” creator Mitch Hurwitz is standing by Jeffrey Tambor ahead of the comedy series returning to Netflix for Season 5 at the end of the month. Tambor was accused of sexual harassment by his former assistant Van Barnes and his former “Transparent” co-star Trace Lysette. The allegations resulted in his firing from the Emmy-winning Amazon series, which is confirmed to be returning for a fifth and final season without him.
The sexual harassment allegations against Tambor broke right around the time filming on “Arrested Development” Season 5 was wrapping production. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Hurwitz admitted that while Tambor could be “difficult” and “a grump” on set every once in awhile, Hurwitz never once got a complaint from cast or crew about sexually inappropriate behavior being made by the actor.
“Jeffrey has never evinced that kind of behavior,” Hurwitz said, while also mentioning that the cast and crew “stand with victims of sexual abuse.” Hurwitz said that he checked with both Netflix and his show’s studio, 20th Century Fox, to inquire about any claims filed against Tambor, but both companies said they never received any complaints. Tambor was fired from “Transparent” after Amazon ran an internal investigation, but those results were not shared with Hurwitz.
“Am I going to cut Jeffrey out of the show, based on allegations that he disputes, that Amazon hasn’t shared, and that we have never experienced any complains about?” Hurwitz asked. “No, of course I am not going to. I’m going to support Jeffrey.”
Since the allegations against Tambor arrived at the end of production, Hurwitz said that it would’ve been impossible to remove him from the new episodes. “We were done shooting,” he said, “so there was no version of cutting him out of the show, or there would be no show.”
According to Entertainment Weekly, Tambor’s co-stars Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Tony Hale share similar thoughts as Hurwitz. Hale said the November accusations were “jarring” and that they did not represent his experiences with Tambor on the series. When asked how viewers will react to the new episodes keeping Tambor, Bateman said it’s not something he can predict, nor does he have to predict.
“You can just do your part, and now you hand it over to the audience,” Bateman said. “It’s up to them what they want to do with it, how they want to think about it, how critics want to review it, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You just watch it go out into the world.”
Entertainment Weekly also spoke with Jessica Walter, who was on the receiving end of one of Tambor’s outbursts during the making of Season 5. Walter said she is still “privately processing” her feelings about the way she was “treated by Tambor,” but she noted that she “never saw anything from him that crossed the line” in terms of sexual harassment.
“I have great empathy for the courage of people who feel they have been harassed in any form speaking out—and sympathy for people who have been unjustly accused,” Walter said. “It’s a very difficult situation for everyone involved.”
“Arrested Development” Season 5 debuts May 31 on Netflix. The streaming giant will make the first half of the season available to stream in order to qualify the series for the 2018 Emmys. The remaining episodes of the season will drop later this year. Head over to Entertainment Weekly to read Hurwitz’s entire interview.