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DID YOU READ

“Arrested Development” casting director describes how the Bluth family came to be

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Michael Bluth could have been played by Ben Schenkman. Think about that as you binge-watch season four of “Arrested Development” this week.

One of the previous casting directors for 20th Century Fox, Marcia DeBonis, told IFC that her proudest achievement was placing the three New York hires: Will Arnett as G.O.B., Tony Hale as Buster, and Jessica Walter as Lucille — and not getting her way when it came to the part of Michael. “Ben Schenkman came in for the part of Michael, and we sent in the tape for him, and they wanted to fly him out, to test him, and a week later, they suddenly started testing Jason Bateman instead,” she recalled. “I was furious, and I called them, and they said they would still test Ben, but that if they didn’t test Jason that week, they were going to lose him. And I was like, ‘Who the fuck is Jason Batemen?’ Because, remember, this was his comeback. And sure enough, they loved him, and Ben didn’t even get to test.”

Of course, once she saw the finished product, “I realized I was wrong and Jason couldn’t have been more perfect for it,” she said. “I was apologizing to everyone, ‘I’m sorry I was such a bitch!’ because I had been apoplectic about it.”

DeBonis, however, had previously had someone else in mind for Michael Bluth — Will Arnett. DeBonis had known him “forever,” but she wasn’t aware of his capacity for comedy. “He was beautiful,” she said, “but because he was so cute, I wrongly judged him as the cute guy.” At first, she thought he would be a good fit, but Arnett wasn’t available because was in the middle of a play, so she let it go. But three or four weeks into the casting process, “Arrested Development” was still having a hard time finding someone for G.O.B., and so they started checking on people who previously weren’t available but whose schedules might have freed up. And with the table reads already in progress, the part needed to be cast right away. Luckily, Arnett’s part in the play was over, so in the space of a day, “we got him in [for a cold reading] that afternoon, and he totally got it, very much by the seat of his pants,” DeBonis said. “And he made Gob what he was. I didn’t get what G.O.B. was — the arrogance of being a dick and still being likeable, clueless with an edge, with something still vulnerable about him in a weird way — until he did it. I didn’t know how funny it was, until he did it.”

Walter, DeBonis had to convince to test for the show, because she was more of an “actor of reputation” than the others being considered. “I don’t think she understood the tone of the show at first,” DeBonis said. “Nowadays, everything’s a mockumentary, but back then, there wasn’t a lot. So I got the first breakdown, which was a very bare bones run-and-gun piece, with a loosie-goosie feel, and I said to her, ‘This is like ‘Spinal Tap.’ Because the Christopher Guest movies were the closest thing to this. And once I explained that to her, she totally got it.”

Hale, DeBonis discovered doing a funny dance to Styx’s “Mr. Roboto” in a Volkswagen commercial, an origin that was later used as a joke on “Arrested Development.” “I was like, ‘That guy is so funny!'” she recalled. “I tracked him down, and I was just smitten with him. I thought he was so special.” DeBonis had tried Hale for a number of parts over the years but he was never quite right (“he’s interesting and off,” she said), but this was one where she knew he would be just right. “They wanted off!” she said with glee. “Finally, here was a part where Tony wouldn’t be considered too offbeat.” Hale was the first person she put on tape for consideration for Buster, and then the network flew him out for his audition. Buster wasn’t a big role in the pilot, but he added some “deep-seated sweetness” to the mix of abrasive characters, and what Hale brought to the character was a way to make Buster seem “more clueless than dumb,” DeBonis said. “You just want to take care of him.”

“I never thought in a million years that this pilot would get picked up,” she said, laughing. “It was so new and different and unique, and sometimes new and unique just doesn’t get picked up. So the fact that this all worked was a great surprise.”

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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