‘Arrested Development’ Creator Mitch Hurwitz Remembers Jessica Walter as ‘The Best Kind of Comic Actor’

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Michael Schneider
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One of Jessica Walter’s most memorable roles, of course, was the boozy matriarch Lucille Bluth on “Arrested Development.” Credit goes to “Arrested” creator Mitch Hurwitz for dreaming up the character, but Hurwitz marvels at the serendipity of getting the perfect actor in Walter to personify the role.

Variety asked Hurwitz to reminisce about working with Walter on “Arrested Development” and he immediately responded with a few thoughts typed through tears:

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I’m stunned and so very sad to hear this news. Jessica was one of the sharpest, funniest people I’ve ever worked with — and I’ve been incredibly fortunate in working with some true greats. She was, to me, the best kind of comic actor — one who’s fearless in her willingness to draw upon the, shall we say, less desirable aspects of our character that, well … make us funny. She effortlessly sunk her teeth into depicting a type of mother that, given how people related to her, must be more common than is usually celebrated.

Her Lucille Bluth must somehow lurk in even the most loving moms. I remember once, in front of her own daughter, she said to me, “I love playing Lucille — she reminds of my mother.” And, I could be wrong, but I thought I detected a look on her daughter’s face that said, “YOUR mother?” Because Lucille was kind of everyone’s mother at their worst. And she somehow made that all really lovable. I really loved her — she was so special. I’m so saddened by this news.

Hurwitz had the chance to work with Walter on the original three-season run of “Arrested Development” on Fox from 2003 to 2006, and then via the show’s additional two-season revival on Netflix in 2013 and 2018-19. She received an Emmy nomination in 2005 for playing Lucille, and was part of the series ensemble that was SAG Award-nominated in 2005, 2006 and 2014. She died Wednesday in New York at 80.

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