'Arrested Development' Cast Reveals New Details About Their Forthcoming Netflix Season
Ever since Netflix announced the resurrection of Arrested Development—and with it, the dysfunctional Bluth family—people have felt more excited than Buster holding a juice box or Lucille discovering Gene Parmesan in disguise. (And if you didn't get those references, there's still time to watch the previous seasons before Netflix releases 15 new episodes on May 26!)
Although the cast has been tight-lipped in recent months, LAist got some fresh Bluth scoop during their press conference on May 4, a date featured prominently in the new season as the holiday "Cinco de Cuatro." During the event, it became clear why these actors deliver series creator Mitchell Hurwitz's lines so well, because they themselves are so witty and engaging—to the point that it was often hard to hear their answers over the laughter in the press room.
The actors on hand were Jason Bateman (Michael Bluth), Michael Cera (George-Michael Bluth), David Cross (Tobias Fünke), Portia de Rossi (Lindsay Bluth Fünke), Alia Shawkat (Maeby Fünke) and Jessica Walter (Lucille Bluth). Read on for some highlights and spoilers.
A 15-Episode Mobiüs Strip
The Netflix release of this Emmy-winning series will depart from the show's previous network TV format. All 15 interlaced episodes will be released on the same day, and although each program could stand alone, viewers will want to watch all 15 episodes to fully appreciate the genius of the writing and production process, as each episode will reveal more about the other ones.
Bateman hopes that fans of the show will enjoy this format, as "they [the fans] seem to be a group that likes things somewhat challenging, by virtue of the fact that they come back for Mitch's dense writing all the time." He went on to talk about how, thanks to Netflix's distribution platform, the stories can span "15 different episodes that are so intertwined that the same scene will repeat from different angels in multiple episodes."
Cross compared the experience with watching earlier "Arrested Development" seasons on DVD and thinking, "What a minute! That's a reference to that thing three shows earlier," and that in this season, that feeling would be quintupled. (When Cross was unsure if "quintuple" was the correct word, Bateman volunteered, "It's quintupified!") Overall, said Cross, "There's going to be a sense of discovery to it that's—I think—going to be really exciting and kind of redefine what TV can be."
Is There an Order?
Bateman said that while Hurwitz has numbered the episodes, they don't have to be watched in any particular order, and that people will ultimately find their own preferred path to follow certain storylines or figure out more of the overarching story.
Cross felt that episodes one and two—which focus on Bateman's character, Michael—would be the best place to start, thanks to the story exposition and the introduction of things such as Cinco de Cuatro. Then he said, "But outside of that…yeah, go nuts!"
De Rossi really enjoys the format and pacing of the new series, and said, "It's channeling your focus onto one character per episode, so in a way it's almost easier to digest than the original series." Plus she felt that since they had more time to tell the story, "you can kind of sit with the jokes a little bit more."
And ultimately, said Bateman, "As much as you treat these as individual episodes, the 15 are meant to be one singular act of this three-act saga. It's a good thing they're all being released on the same day, so that you can get your fill of…everyone."
Acts II and III
As Bateman mentioned, the Netflix series is the first act in a three-act story, and the cast has previously revealed that an "Arrested Development" film—which is still up in the air—would include acts two and three. De Rossi is hopeful about the possibility of a film, saying, "I think we all would love to be a part of this crazy family for as long as we can be, in any format that Mitch thinks is right for the show. I think we're all on board for that."
Actors David Cross, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Jessica Walter, Jason Bateman and Portia de Rossi attend the "Arrested Development" press conference at the Sheraton Universal on May 4. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Netflix)
The Vulture and the Ostrich
In addition to many guest stars (Isla Fisher, Carl Weathers, Liza Minnelli, Ron Howard, John Slattery, Mae Whitman, Judy Greer, Conan O’Brien, Andy Richter, Jeff Garlin, Henry Winkler, Scott Baio, Terry Crews, Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Seth Rogen and John Krasinski), some members of the animal kingdom got in on the action as well. When asked if a vulture was easy to work with, Bateman replied, "Yes. As far as smell and hitting one's mark, tip-top."
De Rossi, who worked with an ostrich, said of her experience, "It was terrifying; it's a really big bird. They're not friendly...but they have nice eyelashes!"
They Blue Themselves?
Cross was coy when asked about Tobias' famous cut-offs, but he did answer the question of whether the blue paint would return, and said, "There are a couple characters who get blue. That's all I'll tell you."
Like Father, Like Son
Cera mentioned that George-Michael is "less of a daddy's boy this season and kind of trying to take a step back." However, he also feels that George-Michael is "actually turning into Michael—inadvertently—in terms of hairstyle and looks."
As for his character's crush on Maeby, he said that "the Maeby thread is still going," but didn't want to say more for fear of ruining any surprises.
Returning Home: Taste the Happy
It's been seven years since the Bluths and the Fünkes have appeared in new episodes, and the actors were asked what they missed most about their characters.
Jessica Walter definitely missed the clothes. Pointing to her chic ensemble, she said, "This is from the original show. I borrowed it." After the laughter in the room subsided, she continued, "And I just missed the juiciness of the [character-specific] writing."
De Rossi enjoys playing Lindsay due to her earnestness, because—in spite of the fact that she's vapid and self-centered—Lindsay thinks that she's a good person. She said, "I like that kind of disconnect for a character. It's always fun to play the innocent. No matter what you're doing, if you feel like you're doing the right thing, then you can get a way with a lot comedically. So I definitely missed not having a conscience!"
Bateman felt that his character wasn't much of a departure, saying, "I don't like to really work that hard, so…Michael Bluth's pretty close to me. I never really left him."
Shawkat enjoyed the "different scenes with different people—different characters. There are very different dynamics, and it was always fun to see what weird things I was going to do [with whom] next."
While a Segway has been prominently featured throughout "Arrested Development" as G.O.B. Bluth's preferred form of transportation, this season included a Segway behind the scenes as well. Director Troy Miller operated a Steadicam on a Segway throughout the episodes—a technique the cast said he also used on the series "Running Wilde." Cross said of the setup, "It's genius."
Cross was asked how limber he feels nowadays, given the fact that it's seven years later and his performances as Tobias often require a lot of physical dexterity. He said that while he was game for anything, while attempting to do some fun stunts, he realized that while his "mind is the mind of a fresh, virile 19-year-old...I'm definitely getting creakier bones. I'm not nearly as limber."
He also talked about seeing himself in a scene where he had his shirt off, and thinking, "It's definitely that middle-aged gut. I didn't even suck it in!" But he concluded—with hilarious delivery—that for his peers and his age group, "Aww dude, I'm top-notch!"
Check back May 19 for more highlights from the press conference. Netflix will release the 15 new "Arrested Development" episodes on May 26. And keep an eye out for the banana stand, which is headed to L.A. soon!