Jason Bateman, David Cross, and Tony Hale were all quick to issue apologies following last month’s controversial New York Times interview occasioned by the new season of “Arrested Development.” After Jessica Walter recalled through tears an incident in which she was verbally harassed by co-star Jeffrey Tambor, her male co-stars appeared to sympathize more with Tambor than Walter.
One voice we haven’t heard from until now is Alia Shawkat, who didn’t say much throughout the discussion. Now, the actress tells Broadly that she wishes she had told the men to “stop talking” and tell Walter to “go on.”
“Once Jeffrey answered [with] his rote response, 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.”
“I looked at Jessica and I could see how it was sitting with her, and it wasn’t good,” she added. “She comes in and she tries to speak for a little while, and again they keep going.”
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“I finally got a word in edgewise, and [that’s when] Jessica got very emotional and started crying. Once that happened, I realized we were having a public and private conversation at the same time, which is very unnatural. All of a sudden, we’re having this intense moment as a group of people who’ve known each other for 15 years — and it’s being recorded,” Shawkat said.
“They were almost trying to cover themselves up while simultaneously talking, instead of actually listening to each other — which is the biggest theme that I learned from this whole experience, this 20-minute interview that made so much noise. The minute Jessica started crying, my instinct was just to go up to her and hug her and be like, ‘This interview’s over.’”
“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,” she continued. “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.”
“Afterwards I was scared that I didn’t say enough and was kind of upset with myself that I wasn’t able to stand my ground more,” Shawkat said. “But once Jessica was upset, that was my main concern. I didn’t even want to necessarily talk about the issues any more. I just wanted to make sure she was ok.”