In 2003, the dysfunctional ex-wealthy family, the Bluth’s, was introduced to the world on the series Arrested Development. Presented with voiceovers, archive footage, and more running gags than there are episodes, the series quickly became a cult classic. And only those die-hard’s would know these facts.
From Jason Bateman’s Michael taking a dig at Jeffrey Tambor’s Emmy loss to how Liza Minnelli wound up playing Lucile 2, here are some extraordinarily dysfunctional facts about Arrest Development.
Bateman Poked Fun At Tambour’s Emmy Loss
In a round of actors poking fun at each other’s careers comes Jason Bateman’s character Michael making a dig at Jeffrey Tambour’s award loss. In the episode “For British Eyes Only,” Michael is talking to his father, George Sr., and during their talk he says, “That’s a wonderful performance, Dad. You’re a regular Brad Garrett.”
In 2005, Tambour lost out of a Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series to none other than Brad Garrett. It was a slight dig but absolutely hysterical for those who follow award shows.
The Part Of Lindsay Bluth Was Re-Written For Portia de Rossi
Watching the dysfunctional Bluth family, it almost seems as though each part was specially written for the actors. Interestingly, that is actually what happened with the character Lindsay Bluth. The character’s role was already scripted when Portia de Rossi walked into her audition for the lone Bluth daughter.
Creator Mitchell Hurwitz was blown away by de Rossi’s humor and audition that he decided to re-write the character. Lindsay is the only character that was rewritten with a particular actor in mind for the role.
There’s Always Money In The Banana (Cookie) Stand
The Bluth family banana stand is an ongoing gag with the series since “there’s always money in the banana stand.” Too bad George Michael and Michael set it on fire. But that’s neither here nor there. The fact is, the stand is actually based on creator Mitchell Hurwitz’s childhood.
Living in Newport Beach, Hurwitz and his brother created a cookie stand back in 1976. According to Hurwitz, there was a lot of money in the stand, considering the business helped put him and his brother through college.
From New York Intellectuals To California Has-Beens
When he first came up with the concept for Arrested Development, creator Mitchell Hurwitz originally wanted to base the Bluth family off J.D. Salinger’s Glass family, a family of new York intellectuals that appear in a number of the author’s short stories.
That entire idea was scrapped the moment the film The Royal Tenenbaums was released. So long was the idea of having an intellectual New York family star in the show, and yellow was the brilliant concept of a mockumentary-type show based on the antics of an ex-wealthy and completely dysfunctional California family.
David Cross Had To Fight For his Mustache
One of Tobias’ not-so-redeeming qualities is his utterly distinct way of being creepy without trying to be creepy. From wearing cut-off shorts underneath his normal clothing to his terrible mustache that is way too big for his face, the character is always there for a good laugh.
Interestingly, that iconic stache wasn’t originally in the game plan. In fact, actor David Cross had to fight for the right to rock a stache since Fox executive Gayle Berman had a strict policy for male characters in sitcoms: no mustaches, no hats, and no fluffy shirts. Oddly Specific.
Charlie Brown Just Can’t Get Away From Bring An Inside Joke
Good grief; Charlie Brown can’t seem to get away from being a joke, even when it’s not his show. In Arrested Development, each time someone is hurt, the “Christmas Time is Here” song from A Charlie Brown Christmas plays as a character walks slowly by, head down, and arms hanging limply at their sides (typically George Michael).
The running gag started with the episode called “Good Grief,” and viewers can even see a beagle hanging out on top of a red doghouse when George Michael’s walking by in a very Charlie Brown-like manner.
Tony Hale Pokes Fun At His Past Commercial
One of Arrested Development‘s running gags is the fact that the characters are very self-aware, with the actor’s often poking fun at themselves and their careers. One such joke came in season three when Buster, dancing to Styx’s “My. Roboto,” got his infamous hook stuck in the stair car’s dashboard.
This scene is actually a reference to actor Tony Hale’s career when he was still an unknown actor trying to make it in Hollywood. In 1999, Hale starred in a Volkswagen commercial where he danced and sang to “My. Roboto.”
Ron Howard’s Iconic Voice-Over Was An Accident
At the beginning of each episode, Ron Howard’s voice comes through the speakers, discussing some of the more dysfunctional antics the Bluth family’s been up to since viewers had last seen them. His voice continues in during random parts of episodes, making scenes funnier by the minute.
Ironically, he wasn’t supposed to stick to the voice-over role. While completing their call sheet, Howard stood in for the role. But his voice and dry delivery were perfect for the overall tone of the show that he got stuck with the part. Talk about a fantastic accident.
Charlize Theron’s “Before” Picture Was From Monster
One of Michael’s reoccurring love interests is Rita, played by Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron. Beautiful, spunky, and full of life, Michael is smitten with Rita. Later on, it’s revealed that Rite didn’t always look gorgeous, with a “before plastic surgery” picture being flashed to the viewers.
The “before” shot is actually a still from Theron’s film Monster. For her role as Aileen Wuornos, Theron gained 30 pounds and wore a lot of poorly applied special effects makeup, making her look very different from her typical statuesque appearance.
Liza Minnelli Was An Old Friend Of Ron Howard
Arguably one of the best-supporting characters throughout Arrested Development is Lucille 2, aka Buster’s vertigo-ridden love interest and Lucille’s frenemy. Played by the legendary Liza Minnelli, the role, in a way, kind of fell into her lap. The show’s producers told Ron Howard that she was their dream actress for the role.
But it’s Liza, and she’s not exactly a phone call away. Well, at least not for most people. Howard, on the other hand, was old friends with Minnelli. She actually used to babysit him! So, Howard went ahead and asked her himself. Oh, Hollywood. It’s all about who you know in the industry.
No, No, “Michael” “Sarah,” Not Michael Cera
Michael Cera was unknown when he joined the cast of Arrested Development as George Michael Bluth. So unknown, in fact, that photographers at the Emmy’s didn’t know who he was. According to the Arrested Development Documentary Project, Jason Bateman and Will Arnett were shocked when photographs started shouting “Michael Cera.”
No one knew who the young actor was, after all. It all made sense when they realized Cera was standing between Michael Douglas and Sarah Jessica Parker. The paparazzi was shouting “Michael” and “Sarah,” referring to the two huge A-listers.
One Marta, Two Marta, Three Marta
One of the first conflicts in Arrested Development is between brothers Michael and Gob. Besides the riches-to-rags drama and everything that goes on with that, the brothers were both in love with the same woman, Marta. Well, maybe not exactly the same woman since three different actresses played Marta during the character’s time on the show.
Patricia Velasquez played the original Marta. Then, she was replaced by Leonor Varela. And the final, Marta is actually an uncredited actress.
Buster Busted Up More Than One Scene With Laughter
With a script like Arrested Development‘s and all of the improv the actors went through on a daily basis, it’s amazing they got anything accomplished. How on earth were scenes upon scenes not interrupted by bouts of laughter? According to actor Will Arnett, filming wasn’t always smooth sailing.
In fact, there was one actor who always managed to get the cast to “break,” making them laugh and unintentionally stalling filming. That actor? None other than Tony Hale, the mastermind behind the youngest Bluth brother, Buster.
Always On The Edge Of Cancelation
Since the first season, Arrested Development was under a constant threat of being canceled. But the writers and actors used the impending cancelation to their advantage. Hey, good source material can come from anywhere! In the first episode of the second season, a reference is made to how the network cut the show’s episode count.
In the episode, Michael’s discussing how the model home contract was “reduced from 22 to 18 homes.” This is a dig at how the network sliced the show’s episode count from 22 to 18 for the season.
Scott Baio Pokes Fun At His Happy Days Character Replacing Henry Winkle’s
When Scott Baio’s character Bob Loblaw replaces Henry Winkle’s Barry Barry Zuckercorn as the Bluth family lawyer, he says something that only true Happy Days fans might have caught. During an episode, he says, “Look, this is not the first time I’ve been brought in to replace Barry Zuckerkorn. I think I can do for you everything he did. Plus, I skew younger. With juries and so forth.”
Ironically, he’s right; this isn’t the first time Baio replaced Winkle. In Happy Days, Baio comes on as Chachi Arcola, Fonzie’s younger cousin. Eventually, Baio’s character replaced Fonzie, appealing to a younger crowd.
Ann, AKA “Her”, Was Played By Two Different Actresses
One of the running gags in Arrested Development is that no one in the family can remember poor George Michael’s girlfriend’s name, Ann. Instead, they all call the girl “her.” The character is so forgettable to the family, and viewers for that matter, that no one seemed to notice two different actresses play her!
In Ann’s first appearance in season one, she’s played by actress Alessandra Torresani. Mae Whitman then takes over the character. No wonder everyone is always asking Michael, “her?” Maybe they’re just confused.
Happy Days References Made Their Way Into The Show
Narrator Ron Howard is known for his time on the series Happy Days. So when his co-star Henry Winkler wound up on Arrested Development, it was only a matter of time before a few references were thrown into the mix. One of the re-occurring references is actually done by Winkler’s horrible lawyer character, Barry Zuckercorn.
In the series, each time Barry looks into a mirror, he combs his hair and shrugs. It was the signature move of his former Happy Days characters. He’s also seen “jumping over a shark” on the way to Burger King, for those fans who caught on to that reference!
Oscar Was Born From Jeffrey Tambour Wearing A Wig
Originally, there was no plan for George Sr. to have an identical twin brother. There was enough dysfunction in the family without adding another Bluth to the picture. However, one day actor Jeffrey Tambour decided to walk into the writer’s room sporting a long, hippie-esk wig.
According to Tambour, “The next day, Oscar was born.” The complete opposite of George Sr., apparently due to lack of stress and some recreational substance use, Oscar Bluth made an appearance in 28 episodes.
Even Hamlet Is Referenced
With all of the running gags and one-off jokes in Arrested Development, a few are bound to fly over viewers’ heads, especially if a viewer didn’t pay attention in high school literature class. When Buster finds out Oscar is actually his biological father, he subtly references the Shakespearean play Hamlet, calling Oscar his “uncle-father.”
In the famous play, Hamlet’s uncle kills his father, only to go on any marry his mother. In the play, the title character says, “…my uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived…”
Alia Shawkat’s First Kiss Was On Set
When Alia Shawkat was first cast as Maeby Fünke, she was 14 years old, just getting into her teenage years. And while her character’s confident, witty, and smart in her own sinister “I’m going to take over the world one day” kind of way, Shawkat was just a normal kid.
In fact, before kissing Michael Cera onscreen, she had never been kissed. According to the actress, the experience was a bit awkward, considering her father was on set at the time.