Hurwitz has been the showrunner on Arrested Development since day one, and announced the recently released fifth season himself on Twitter. However, the verbal assault detailed during the cast's press junket was reportedly news to him. Hurtwitz spoke to reporters from Deadline, admitting that he did not realize the severity of the encounter until recently.
"I'm guilty of not realizing how deeply upsetting that was for Jessica," he said. "I heard about it and saw parts of it in the dailies, although the part I saw didn't seem that — I don't know — momentous. But fights and outbursts always start with things that are smaller."
During their press tour to promote Arrested Development season 5, which premiered on Netflix on May 29, the cast opened up about Tambor's behavior on set. The 73-year-old actor was fired from his starring role in Transparent last year after it was revealed that he had screamed at and harassed co-workers on set.
In a group interview with the New York Times, the Arrested Development cast confirmed that Tambor had lashed out at his on-screen wife, Jessica Walter, as well. In the course of the discussion, Jason Bateman and other male co-stars jumped to Tambor's defense, downplaying the incident. The video then went viral.
For Hurwitz, the video was nearly as revelatory as it was for the rest of the world.
"It was something minor, like he was doing a speech and Jessica wanted to redo something in her speech," he said, recalling the outburst. "She's a perfectionist, which I have a horrible case of myself, and he's sort of loose with it, finds his way back if he gets off course within the speech, for instance."
"And she was resetting and he got upset and was like, 'Oh, come on! You always do this!' He continued for a bit and she apologized. 'I'm sorry, Jeffrey, I'm sorry.' But he continued and then walked off the set apparently, but he walked out of frame," Hurwitz said.
As Hurwitz recalled, one of the most surprising aspects of the ordeal was how Walter had shifted to deal with the tantrum.
"Jessica was really gracious about that — and, you know, was professional in that she didn't let on that it was still upsetting and present for her," he said. "She's a total pro and the set went back to functioning as well as it always has due to her professionalism, and that's to her immense credit."
Walter's facade gave way last month, however, as she burst into tears in the New York Times interview. Hurwitz said that he did not expect that.
"There was more to it than I realized, and it's not my place to opine about what I believe was the weight of it," he said. "I misinterpreted what I understood to have played out, and more importantly the depth of Jessica's pain about it. I feel so bad about that. I feel bad because I love these people — I feel bad for very personal reasons… I wish I'd known, or made a greater effort to know, the pain that it caused."
Still, in the end, Hurwitz defended the decision to keep Tambor on the show after his termination from Transparent. He said that he has never received a sexual harassment complaint about Tambor.
"To be clear: In saying this I'm not defending sexual harassment," he added. "It is and should be a job-terminating offense. I just don't have any information on whatever happened there. Nor do I have any evidence of him ever sexually harassing anyone in the 20 years, off and on, that I've worked with him."