Seven years might have passed between the end of “Arrested Development” Season 3 and the beginning of Season 4, but don’t expect any of the show’s central characters to have changed dramatically. If Tony Hale is to be believed, his character Buster Bluth has actually regressed in terms of his maturity.
“Buster has not matured. I think the first series he was probably around a 7-year-old maturity. I’d say now he’s probably at a 5,” Hale tells Zap2it in a recent interview. “He’s gone back. Well, he’s just gotten worse and worse. I think there’s just probably years and years of isolation. I mean, going to the pharmacy’s a big day for him, so if he can get out of the house, that’s a big day.”
He adds, “He’s still got his juice addiction. I think he might have some support groups for his juice addiction that we don’t know about. But that’s his vice, is juice. He goes to it in times of anxiety and pain, which is pretty much every minute of the day.”
Though “Arrested Development” will premiere its 15-episode fourth season on Netflix in a designated order, the season has been described as a “puzzle” and viewers have been encouraged to not necessarily watch the new episodes chronologically. Hale disagrees, saying that at least the first viewing should be done in the original order in which the episodes are released.
“I think it’s encouraged to watch from the beginning,” he says. “I think people are encouraged to watch the thing in order — the series in order — because it will make a lot more sense, because it is kind of one big puzzle. I think I would say watch it from the beginning and then go back and kind of … because you’ll miss stuff and you can kind of see the pieces of the puzzle really click once you watch it the second time.”
Part of the reason Season 4 was shot with each episode focusing on a different member of the Bluth family is because the schedules of the series’ stars didn’t always align. Even with that being the case, Hale says he had a serious case of deja vu when he went back to the recreated “Arrested Development” set.
“I think all of us probably wish we got a lot more time with each other because scheduling was very difficult, but the times we did get together were very special. My first day back was the first day that everybody was on set, and we were all in the penthouse, everybody was in wardrobe, and they recreated the penthouse down to every detail so it was a very surreal moment,” he remembers. “I think Portia [de Rossi] said it was kind of like a time warp. It had been seven years, and there we are sitting on those couches again. That was pretty awesome to be back there.”
There’s a whole slew of returning guest stars coming back to “Arrested Development,” but one of the ones we at Zap2it are most excited about is Liza Minnelli. Hale confirms to Zap2it that he and his on-screen ex-girlfriend will have scenes together in Season 4.
“My girlfriend’s back!” he says excitedly. “I love Liza Minnelli. I love that woman. My favorite part, and I’ve said this a few times, but my favorite part of working with Liza is I just loved sitting and kind of hearing her stories of her life, and her stories weren’t coming from a place of ego. It just came from a place of ‘listen to my life.’ And so I literally could sit there all day long and just listen to her stories and, you know, she’s an icon, but she’s also a gracious, kind person and that combination sometimes you don’t find. So I really, really love working with her.”
Minnelli’s involvement in the series is a joke in and of itself, and Hale says that the fact that the show could incorporate as beloved an actress as the “Cabaret” star is indicative of the type of project it is. He adds, “And just a show of surprises, because, for me, what’s special about the show is there’s no kind of formula it fits. It’s just full of things where you’re just going, ‘What the hell did they just do?’ For my character, with Liza, with my hand coming off, they’re just not afraid to really think outside the box. That’s been the way it is the whole time.”
So will there actually be a movie following the premiere of Season 4? Hale isn’t sure, and he says he’ll be happy either way.
“The show has always been the kind of thing where ‘we’ll see,’ because even the first time around we never knew if we were going to get canceled,” he says. “So we’re kind of used to ‘let’s enjoy it while we have it.’ If the movie happens that would obviously be fantastic, but if not, it’s been an awesome ride and I’m incredibly grateful for it.”
Zap2it has been holding an “Arrested Development” Rewatch, which breaks down each episode in the series’ first three seasons. Hale was grateful for our dedication to the comedy show, and shared his personal favorite recurring jokes.
“I’m a huge fan of Tobias being a Blue Man. I love that he thought it was a support group for depressed men. Any of his stuff is great. Kitty Sanchez. I love how Henry Winkler always just kind of says these really crass things and doesn’t realize he said them and is a horrible lawyer,” Hale says. “There’s so many, it’s hard to narrow them down. The Blue Man is definitely a top one.”
It turns out that even Hale benefits from taking part in an “Arrested Development” rewatch every once in a while. “Once the show finished, I hadn’t seen many episodes and then we came back,” he says. “My wife and I watched a few and it was like watching it with fresh eyes, because when you’re doing it you’re kind of seeing it from a different perspective and you remember the day you shot back, but seeing it again it’s like I missed so much stuff.”
“Arrested Development” Season 4 premieres in its entirety on Netflix on May 26 starting at 12:01 a.m. PT.