Jason Bateman Apologizes to Jessica Walter Over Jeffrey Tambor Comments

Jason Bateman, right, in the new season of “Arrested Development” with other cast members: from left, Jessica Walter, Jeffrey Tambor, Lauren Weedman, Will Arnett and David Cross. Mr. Bateman apologized for comments in a New York Times interview.CreditSaeed Adyani/Netflix

Following a blistering reaction on social media, Jason Bateman, one of the stars of “Arrested Development,” apologized on Thursday after an interview with The New York Times during which he defended Jeffrey Tambor, a co-star, and his on-set behavior toward another co-star, Jessica Walter. Critics accused Mr. Bateman of excusing Mr. Tambor’s verbal harassment at the expense of Ms. Walter, during an era in which male toxicity in Hollywood is facing a reckoning.

Mr. Bateman addressed the interview with several posts on Twitter:

The interview, conducted Tuesday, featured most of the cast of the show, which is returning to Netflix May 29 for its fifth season. But this season faced an obstacle as it nearly wrapped production: Mr. Tambor was fired from the Amazon show “Transparent” after allegations of sexual harassment and verbal abuse emerged. He denied the allegations of sexual misconduct, but admitted his temper had been an issue, and revealed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that he once blew up at Ms. Walter on the “Arrested Development” set.

[Read our full interview with the “Arrested Development” cast.]

When the cast, which included Mr. Bateman, Mr. Tambor, Ms. Walter, Alia Shawkat, Will Arnett and Tony Hale, gathered for the interview, Ms. Walter said, fighting through tears, “In like 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 Mr. Tambor verbally harassed her.

But Mr. Bateman, several times, described Mr. Tambor’s tendencies on set as normal for the entertainment business and said he wouldn’t do another season of “Arrested Development” without Mr. Tambor.

“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,’” Mr. Bateman said.

Ms. Shawkat, the only female cast member in the room other than Ms. Walter, interjected and 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.”

Mr. Hale, a few minutes later, supported Mr. Bateman’s position: “I will say, to Jason’s point, we can be honest about the fact that — and not to build a thing — we’ve all had moments.”

To which Ms. Walter replied: “Not like that.”

Mr. Hale also expressed contrition Thursday, saying he had apologized to Ms. Walter personally.

The furor online was swift after the interview was published. Ms. Walter was praised for pushing back against her male co-stars, with Mr. Tambor in the room, about what is and isn’t normal behavior, while Mr. Bateman, the most vocal of Mr. Tambor’s defenders, received an onslaught of criticism.