The Goldbergs star Jeff Garlin has been at the center of allegations and rumors of misbehavior on the show's set. After a few weeks of speculation, Vanity Fair's Maureen Ryan finally got in touch with Garlin himself and learned some details about the situation.
For background, Sony Pictures Television responded to inquiries about Garlin's status on the show, giving a simple statement that left many questions floating. "The well-being of our cast and crew is of utmost importance to us. This is an employment matter and it is being addressed by HR and production." According to Ryan, the rumors that had been spread involved a "pattern of verbal and physical conduct" that had some on set uncomfortable.
In this new @VanityFair Q&A, I talk at length with Jeff Garlin; about HR investigations, conduct toward colleagues, what he thinks he should or shouldn't change; power imbalances & more... https://t.co/JknRpu2wxl— Mo Ryan (@moryan) December 3, 2021
The behavior in question includes touching or hugging people with or without consent, language that some found inappropriate, and other conduct. According to Vanity Fair's source, "He got away with it because he would call himself out for it-saying he was a big teddy bear, saying things like, 'Oh you know me, just a big bowl of mush, I'm a hugger. I just love you."
Garlin reached out personally to speak with Ryan and shared his view of the situation and his disagreements with Sony. According to the Curb Your Enthusiasm star, he has not been fired from the show, he has been investigated by HR three seasons running, and his feelings toward the feeling of an "unsafe" work environment.
"My opinion is, I have my process about how I'm funny, in terms of the scene and what I have to do. They feel that it makes for a quote 'unsafe' workspace," Garlin told the outlet. "Now, mind you, my silliness making an unsafe workspace-I don't understand how that is. And I'm on a comedy show. I am always a kind and thoughtful person. I make mistakes, sure. But my comedy is about easing people's pain. Why would I ever want to cause pain in anybody for a laugh? That's bullying. That's just uncalled for."
"That's where we're at. I've not been fired because of it. We just think differently. Now when I'm at Curb Your Enthusiasm, for example, if I'm not doing the things that we're talking about, Larry David-or a cameraman, the producer, who's a woman-lots of people come up to me and ask me if I'm okay," Garlin continued. "I need to do what I need to do to keep my energy up and do what I do. So I don't know what to say. To me, if you're a stand-in on a show and you don't like the content or the behavior... If someone's going after you, that's different. But in terms of in general-well, then by God, quit, go someplace else."
So, spoiler alert: Jeff Garlin has not been fired from The Goldbergs. I think the issues that come up in this Q&A have relevance far beyond one show. And in closing I'll just say....— Mo Ryan (@moryan) December 3, 2021
Garlin's discussion with Ryan is raw and honest, with the reporter keeping Garlin on point and sometimes on the defensive. He gives his side of the situation in the manner he sees it and how it applies to the greater narrative on film or TV sets. It's also a respectful and refreshing chat that might not sit well with every party reading it, but it hits differently than what we've seen in other situations.
The actor isn't certain the show will return for another season and admits he didn't want to return due to the HR situation, but he also didn't want to let down the cast and crew on set. "Maybe I'm not as good as I think, but I try [showing] everyone kindness and respect. I also feel free to joke around with them, and clearly some of my jokes are missing, and I have hurt people. And that makes me sad," Garlin said to close the chat.