'Arrested Development': Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Tony Hale on the Bluth brothers and new episodes

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Image Credit: F. Scott Schafer

A megalomaniacal magician who makes a lot of huge mistakes. A hook-handed, shoulder-rubbing stay-at-home son who suffers from panic attacks. A well-intended, sensible yet slightly superior martyr/father who’s trying to keep his freaky family from falling apart. Together they represent the Bluth brothers, and though they don’t always see eye to eye, Gob (Will Arnett), Buster (Tony Hale), and Michael (Jason Bateman) are hermanos to the end. Now, their adventures begin anew as Arrested Development, the revered cult comedy that was cancelled by Fox in 2006, offers up 15 new episodes that will be released on Netflix tonight at the stroke of 3:01 am ET/12:01 a.m. PT. A comeback story for the digital ages? A second chance at comedy domination? A third thing? “I would call it ‘The Return of AD: Sweet Revenge; The Joke’s On Us,'” quips Arnett. Read all about this next chapter in the story of a wealthy family who lost everything and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together right here. After you’re finished, soak up these bonus quotes from Bateman, Arnett, and Hale, who discuss everything from the new season to getting back in character to action figures to onesies.

Series creator Mitchell Hurwitz always had Arrested Development on the brain, even while working on other projects, such as the short-lived 2010 sitcom Running Wilde, which starred Arnett.
ARNETT: There was an open document that Mitch kept in the corner. We would have ideas for Running Wilde and Mitch would say, “Oh, that’d be great for Arrested.” It wasn’t even ‘Arrested Movie’ — just an Arrested folder that was all these thoughts and collections of ideas. So we’d be talking about something and he’d go, “Oh let’s put that into Arrested.” It was like a living, breathing entity.

An Arrested Development movie had been long rumored and discussed. But Hurwitz shared an intriguing idea with the cast to set up a movie with a cluster of episodes that chronicled the exploits of each family member over the last half-dozen years or so.
BATEMAN: When he explained that the attempt to educate the uninitiated about the characters and the events that have gone on in the Bluth family would take up so much of the [movie's] time, and that a more efficient and interesting way to do that would be to throw that into episodes, then it made a lot of sense to me.
HALE: The thing that I always loved about the show was the surprise element. It was constantly a surprise. I was surprised when they were like, “By the way, a seal is going to bite off your hand.” “By the way, Liza Minnelli is going to be your girlfriend.” You could never predict what was happening, so when he said that we were going to do episodes, I was immediately excited, because with a movie, you get the script and you get where it’s going. However, with television and how Mitch was working, you never knew what was coming next. I was excited to ride that surprise wave again, like Wow, what’s going to come up? What’s going to shock us?

Of course, new episodes would generate not just excitement, but also great if not impossible expectations from fans, who worship the old show. How did Hurwitz & Co. deal with Arrested‘s looming legacy? Largely by trying to ignore it.
ARNETT: You can’t be too precious about it. Put it this way: We don’t use words like “legacy.” If it works, it works. But in sticking with the original conceit of the show, Mitch looks for different ways to take chances. That, if anything, that is adhering to the legacy of the show. You just gotta keep trying. From moment one, we were always willing to risk falling flat on our faces, and that’s what made the show fun to watch — and fun to make. We always took chances, and we always took risks: “God, this is gonna be so stupid, but let’s just try it.” But there was always that safety net when we were working of, “Just go for it. Now’s not the time to hold back.” I’m going to name-drop here so get ready to catch it. I had a conversation with Ricky Gervais, and we were discussing that very idea: When you’re making a show, when you’re performing, that’s not the time to hold back; that’s the time to take a risk. And I think that Mitch has consistently done that. And he always encourages us to go for it. And if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but at least you might have the opportunity to do something different.
BATEMAN: I was never concerned because Mitch was there. Mitch was the only one that was concerned because he didn’t have a higher authority to defer to. But we knew if Dad was there, the kids would be taken care of.

When it came time for the entire cast to reunite in Lucille’s penthouse to shoot their first scene together, Bateman felt more like a fan.
BATEMAN: It was just a neat moment to simply be a part of and have a front row seat for. The scene we were shooting was all the cast together — so the crew was there, the writers were there, the producers were there, the director was there — and finally then, that’s when it felt like, “Oh my God, we’re literally four minutes away from rolling cameras and being these characters again and doing this great material that Mitch writes again.” Just as a fan of the show, I was so excited to be that close to it and to be witnessing in real time. I felt really privileged…. I was grinning like a little girl who had just got asked to prom by some big stud. I felt super pretty.

Meanwhile, a familiar (and frightening) voice helped Hale get back into character
HALE: To be honest, it had been seven years since I stepped into Buster again so you think, “Man, I hope I can match the expectation.” I remember being on set, and [seeing] Jessica Walter as Lucille. [She and Buster] had such a codependent, messed-up relationship. Hearing her completely patronizing tone for Buster  — not even patronizing, just flat-out abusive — it was almost like a nostalgic click. Something just clicked.

He also fondly recalls shooting the scene — the first one shown to fans —  in which Buster and Lucille share a smoke
HALE: That was probably one of my favorite moments. That was one of those things where she would smoke and I have to blow it out and we just let it go and let it go and let it go. I felt like I was on The Carol Burnett Show. One of my comic icons is Tim Conway — I just love how he just trusted the material and didn’t feel like he had to force it…. You just felt like he was having so much joy out of it just riding it. And I felt like that doing this scene — letting it go and go and go, wherever it goes. You love those moments. She is just such a bitch on the show, man, and Buster is so needy and he’ll do whatever she asks. She is everything to him.

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