Arrested Development was a sitcom that aired on Fox in the US back in the mid-2000s, and if you haven't watched it yet, you're in for a ruddy bloody treat. Seriously, trust us, it's 100% amazing – but, alas, it was cut short mid-way through its third season and rumours of a cinematic follow-up have rumbled on ever since. So it was with great beaming smiles on our faces that we welcomed star Will Arnett and creator Mitchell Hurwitz into our office for an ever-so-hilarious webchat, all to celebrate its return to British TV as it hits FX (Sky channel 124), Tuesdays at 9pm from February 8.
samdaman94 says: Will we ever see a Blu-ray release of Arrested Development?!?!
Will Arnett: Try to contain your excitement and curiosity!
Mitch Hurwitz : You will most likely see a Blu-ray of Arrested Development before we see any profit from Arrested Development. I don't know - we're not plugged into that. But what would you see on a Blu-ray? The strapline on Will's wig. And the strings from all the puppeteers who controlled Jessica Walters.
Will Arnett: She'd been dead for 8 years before we started filming.
Mitch Hurwitz : We're coming out with the LaserDisc. Then look out for the Blu-ray right at the end of the Blu-ray period.
Will Arnett: Let's burn 'em a Blu-ray right now!
[ANALRAPIST enters the chatroom]
Mitch Hurwitz : I love that someone's called 'Analrapist'!
Will Arnett: Yeah, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, The Office.
Mitch Hurwitz : The Office. But that's an American show, right?
Will Arnett: The British spin-off's okay too. Alan Partridge is up there too, super funny.
Mitch Hurwitz : Anything we could get a hold of. I didn't see Alan Partridge until about three years ago. There isn't a joke in Arrested Development that didn't come out of the rhythms established by Monty Python.
(Pause) Talking about British comedy, the guy that took your country to war... now he was funny! Talk about an unsung hero. That WMD thing was so meta.
Mitch Hurwitz : Can I just throw in the word "rightly"?
Will Arnett: People think that that's what he was. But I don't think that Gob was an asshole. I think he was just passed over and unloved and a little daft.
Mitch Hurwitz : Will is able to play big so well that it clouds your memory of what really made Gob so special, which was his immense vulnerability, just a millimetre below the skin. Will's ability to play the impotence of the brother who wants power, but freaks out when he gets too close to it.
Will Arnett: Keep going. Shhhh, everyone! If you have anything else you want to add to that, we're on a roll!
Mitch Hurwitz :
Will Arnett : Yup.
Mitch Hurwitz : Although you do tilt when you run...
Will Arnett: (Observing stressed-out Empire typist) I never thought that your talking would one day give another person carpal tunnel.
Will Arnett : We do have differing views. First of all, this is the reason that neither of us could ever be called as an expert witness. My memory is that they had written in the script this Chicken Dance, and Mitch and Jim Vallely had come on set and they had written the scene, and they came down to explain to me the Chicken Dance. At a certain point, Mitch started moving and said to Jimmy, "Do what you were doing in the room." There was a point that all three of us were doing it, and it came from that. I still cherish the memory of three grown men on a darkened stage doing this ridiculous dance for each other, really studying each other too.
Mitch Hurwitz : Warden Gentles? (Pause) It's like trying to say which is your favourite family member... My two daughters, by the way, created the portmanteau which is Maeby - Maisy and Phoebe. But truly, with those recurring characters, we really did feel like they were part of the family. How do you choose between Henry Winkler and Liza Minnelli? Justin Grant Wade, who played Steve Holt - also amazing.
Will Arnett: I think everyone's favourite was Amy Poehler. Oh, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who is everyone's favourite everything.
Mitch Hurwitz : Amy Poehler - is she the one who played Mango on Saturday Night Live?
Mitch Hurwitz : Ben Stiller came and played Tony Wonder. He actually called originally to discuss another project. This is so embarrassing. We had suddenly got this onrush of really prominent people who were willing to be on the show. Then I got a call from Ben Stiller's office, about another project. But without realising that, I said, atypically agressively, "Hey, when can you do the show?" I assumed he was calling to arrange a cameo! There was a moment of silence, then he said, "Well, I'm only in town for a week..." I said, "Great! We've got a part for a magician." He hesitated, then said, "Okay..."
Will Arnett : Everyone took such a giant leap of faith to do the show, because we weren't getting ratings.
Will Arnett: …turn on G-Force and have me in it?
Mitch Hurwitz : …have my opinion of talent verified. These are such great people and so talented. And typically those are the people ignored by showbusiness. It's thrilling, it really is. And I can't wait for it to happen to me.
Will Arnett: Do not lose hope!
Mitch Hurwitz :
Will Arnett: And I have stripped in them already today.
Mitch Hurwitz: And they come off very, very quickly. That was one of the weird moments where everything comes together. We come up with the joke, the actor's already wearing stripper pants and it just works...
Will Arnett: Why does that sound gay? It only sounds gay if you're just thinking about me. You're making it gay!
Mitch Hurwitz : It sounds gay because we're the ones making all the noise! To the casual eavesdropper, it's just two men having sex.
Will Arnett: Can I ask you a question? Am I the meat?
Mitch Hurwitz : You're the meat and as we both know, often the condiment.
Will Arnett: It's so much more gratifying than dead silence, which is what we experienced when we were making it - and often open contempt from the powers that be. It's funny how much better praise feels.
Mitch Hurwitz : Absolutely. Who knew?
Will Arnett: On set, I guess the funniest recurring joke would be that Jason was straight.
Mitch Hurwitz : I think that's even out in the world. I think that joke's caught on. He was in a movie with Jennifer Aniston. People like this joke!
Will Arnett: Well, that's a laugh.
Mitch Hurwitz : My favourite joke was the call-forward of the fact that George Sr. built houses for Saddam Hussein. That's the most audacious thing - putting in jokes that there's no way an audience could enjoy. I'm not sure I'd have the courage to do that today.
Will Arnett : Well, the fact that barely months after it happened, while America was still in this war/occupation of Iraq, you had the ‘Mission Accomplished’ scene, while we were still in the thick of it. It was kind of a great natural engine, or inspiration. Because you couldn't make it up.
Mitch Hurwitz : There was something fun about paralleling the Bush saga as it was unfolding. Because you were W, Will, and Jason was Jeb.
Will Arnett: I remember the episode ‘Afternoon Delight', that Jason directed, and the day after George W. Bush won his second term, and everyone was so angry in our world, and we were doing the scene where I got out of the cab in a banana suit - which was uncomfortable; I'm not used to being in tights, during the day. I remember watching the show and remembering how angry I was in the scene, and I remember being really angry because Jason and I had had our first argument on the set because he thought I was distracted in the scene, but I was just angry from the election the night before.
Mitch Hurwitz : I wasn't even on the set that day - I was busy getting George Bush re-elected. And we did it!
Mitch Hurwitz : That's a great way to phrase that. Very accurate.
Mitch Hurwitz : I can tell you what my favourite Michael Cera song is... "Room For Two In That Stall". No question mark.
Will Arnett: And I'd like to add, you are actually writing the movie.
Mitch Hurwitz : I am in the process of writing the movie with my quondam partner Jim Vallely, with whom, along with Will, we wrote the series Running Wilde. I should also add that I don't know what "quondam" means. I think it means ‘sometimes’.
Will Arnett: I should say that I view that as a subtraction.
Mitch Hurwitz : Yeah, let's go for it... Listen, it's a tough business and they've taken a chance on me a couple of times. The bigger question is: will they take a chance on me again? And if so, I can't wait to cram it in their face by saying no.
Will Arnett: Can't wait to make them choke on your "no"!
Mitch Hurwitz : So, yes, of course I'm interested.
Will Arnett: There was very few things that were more gratifying than using a slight movement from the Segway as an exclamation point to a scene.
Mitch Hurwitz : Absolutely.
Will Arnett: In the second episode, Top Banana, we're talking about the banana stand burning down, and Michael asks if I mailed the insurance letter, and I put it in reverse and it just started to slowly reverse out of the frame...
Mitch Hurwitz : Because we've already seen him desperately trying to throw the letter in the ocean...
Will Arnett: They didn't give us a Segway, by the way. We had to buy that.
Mitch Hurwitz : Maybe we're doing it in the wrong order. We keep trying to sell out to become super-rich... That's a very nice thing to ask and we welcome the opportunity.
Will Arnett: We're actually having a massive sell-out right now. Everything goes, as far as we're concerned. It's a fire sale!
Will Arnett: So for the millionth time in your life you switched gears in the middle of a sentence.
Mitch Hurwitz : It was exactly the one millionth time!
Will Arnett: Confetti fell out of the ceiling.
Mitch Hurwitz : I came up with an almost instantaneous lie.
Will Arnett: And that's how you build a sociopath!
Mitch Hurwitz : You reward him with confetti. But anyway, yes, Carl said, "Can I play something interesting, like being super-cheap or something?" I was so impressed by that...
Will Arnett: He was so great on the show.
Mitch Hurwitz : I recall you guys having many.
Will Arnett: There were a bunch. Tony Hale would often be the reason for a lot of us busting up. His portrayal of Buster was so intense and spot-on, there was nobody more in character than Tony Hale at any given moment.
Mitch Hurwitz : And nobody less like their character!
Will Arnett: But there's a scene, I've said this before but it bears retyping. There's a scene in season 2, near the end, where the family has an intervention with Lucille, and then they all just end up having this huge party. In that scene, because it was late at night and at the end of a long work week at the end of the season, and we'd all just experienced some big negative event that will go unmentioned, everybody was just so punch-drunk. I remember squatting on the dining room table in Lucille's apartment, and Tony Hale was at the piano with a hook on his hand, and David had just reappeared from his trailer, where unbeknownst to us he had stripped down to only his jean shorts. I remember looking over at Tony hammering away at the keys with this insane crazy-crown look on his face, and David dancing next to the piano in his jean shorts. It was so absurd, that I had tears streaming down my face. it's the hardest I have ever laughed in my entire life, and it was caught on film.
Mitch Hurwitz : It was an amazing moment.
Will Arnett: Mitch and (producer) Chuck Martin were watching from the monitors and they came in. We were all laughing so hard, and we took that laughter into the parking lot, into our cars, and took it home separately, and then called each other an hour later and were still laughing. It was so intense. It was a release.
Mitch Hurwitz : It's so easy to take yourself too seriously in the midst of this kind of work, and it was just a reminder of what it's really all about.
Will Arnett: Seriously, don't type that.
Will Arnett: She's sitting on a bench that says Wee Britain, but you only see "Wee Brain." That might have been too hidden even for us.
Mitch Hurwitz : Sometimes I just call it "being alone" or "wanting some time to myself".
Will Arnett : Or “Dad's watching TV”.
Mitch Hurwitz : Sometimes I call it "dropping a Tic Tac in an envelope".
Will Arnett: Or "shoving an oyster into a parking meter."
Mitch Hurwitz : Occasionally a network president will ask you to include something from HIS life.
Will Arnett: We were, I think, as a group, aghast.
Mitch Hurwitz : But Buster wanting to make love to his mother was all of us.
Thank you, you lovely fans, for expressing interest in the show and in us! It was an incredibly meaningful experience for us and it's so gratifying to feel it connected with an audience...
Will Arnett: ...an audience. I was just about to say that.
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