Next time, you can count on Alia Shawkat to speak up more. The Arrested Development star opened up about the cast’s controversial interview with The New York Times, which left her male costars in hot water for supporting Jeffrey Tambor while Jessica Walter cried about his alleged behavior on the set of the comedy.
“I know I said a little, but what I wish I had said was, ‘Stop talking. Stop. Jessica, go on,” the 29-year-old actress revealed in an interview with Broadly, published on Thursday, June 7. During last month’s NYT sit-down, Walter accused Tambor of “verbally” harassing her on the set of Arrested Development. The former Transparent actor, who has also been accused of sexual harassment in the past, was sitting next to her at the time and apologized.
“Jason [Bateman] says this happens all the time,” Walter said. “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. I just let it go right here, for The New York Times.”
After the interview was published on May 23, Bateman, along with the other male stars in the room — David Cross, Tony Hale and Will Arnett — got backlash for either defending Tambor or not standing up for Walter.
“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 told Broadly. “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 comes in and she tries to speak for a little while, and again they keep going.”
“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,” she added. “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.”
Bateman apologized in a lengthy statement on social media on May 24. “The victim’s voice needs to be heard and respected. Period,” he said in part. “I didn’t say that and instead said a bunch of other stuff and not very well. I deeply, and sincerely, apologize.” Cross and Hale also both said they planned to apologize to Walter for their behavior during the interview.
Shawkat told Broadly that the men were “almost trying to cover themselves up while simultaneously talking, instead of actually listening to each other” during the interview. “I felt like I didn’t say enough to defend her,” she admitted. “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 added. “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. 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.”
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