Why Filming Arrested Development Season 4 Was Brutal For Will Arnett

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Will Arnett opens up about why filming Arrested Development season 4 was a particularly difficult and emotional time for him personally.

Will Arnett has opened up about why filming Arrested Development season 4 was an incredibly difficult experience for him. The Canadian actor’s first major role came when the cult comedy aired in 2003, having only acted in small parts prior to its release. However, despite the critical acclaim Arrested Development received, it was cancelled after season 3 due to poor ratings. In 2011, following a fan campaign, it was picked up for season 4 by Netflix, and Arnett reprised his role of bumbling part-time magician Gob Bluth. Filming on Arrested Development season 4 began in 2012, and the episodes released to mixed reviews in 2013.

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Between Arrested Development‘s cancellation and revival, Arnett performed smaller roles in a range of films and TV shows. This included a turn as a member of the incestuous, villainous ice-skating twins Stranz and Fairchild Wan Waldenberg in Blades of Glory, where he acted alongside his then wife Amy Poehler. The two had met in 1996 and were married four years later, starring together in multiple projects, including Arrested Development and Poehler’s biggest show Parks and Recreation. The pair eventually separated in 2012, divorcing in 2016.

Related: Arrested Development: 1 Quote From Each Character That Goes Against Their Personality


In a conversation with The Guardian, Arnett explained how his divorce from Poehler impacted his experiences on set whilst shooting Arrested Development season 4, despite his joy at being reunited with his former co-stars. The actor explained how difficult he found the process, describing it as “brutal” and “excruciating.” One source of relief for him on the set, however, was showrunner Mitch Hurwitz, who was able to help Arnett turn his emotional pain into a “hilarious and cathartic” performance. Read Arnett’s full quote below:

“[Shooting season4 was] almost excruciating … Just brutal, brutal, brutal. I was driving to the set one day and I pulled over to the side of the road and cried for an hour.”

Will Arnett in Arrested Development

Arnett explained that he was also able to channel the emotional experience of divorce during this period into his performances on Bojack Horseman and Flaked. The actor’s candor is somewhat refreshing, as the common perception of comedic actors can often be misinformed and appear overwhelmingly positive, while behind-the-scenes personal events may go unrecognised. Arnett’s comments also provide an interesting insight into the acting process, as his characters on both shows, particularly Bojack, display incredibly narcissistic and self-loathing tendencies. It seems these roles may have proved “cathartic” since they were emblematic of the emotions the actor was experiencing during what he describes as a “painful couple of years.”


It can often be easy to forget that each character in a movie or TV project has a real person behind them. This is especially true of comedic actors, who are often closely associated with their light-hearted and fun characters. However, Arnett’s experience filming Arrested Development season 4 is likely not a unique one, and speaks to the professionalism required of those in the entertainment industry who work to constantly meet the demands of enthusiastic fans, who are not to know what goes on behind the camera.

More: How Arrested Development Reshaped Sitcoms

Source: The Guardian

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