LOS ANGELES — There was a time when Jessica Walter couldn’t get “Arrested.”
In 2003, the Emmy-winning actress read the script for “Arrested Development” and wanted the role of Lucille Bluth, the monstrous matriarch of the quirky sitcom’s decidedly dysfunctional family.
“But they weren’t seeing me,” Walter recalled, referring to the show’s producers. “Yeah, tragic, isn’t it?” she continued, with a sly smile.
Walter eventually got the gig, and “Arrested Development” would go on to win a 2004 Emmy for outstanding comedy series.
“It’s exposed me to a demographic of people who thought I was sick or dead,” commented the 72-year-old Walter, who was probably best known for playing the stalker in Clint Eastwood’s 1971 thriller “Play Misty for Me” until “Arrested Development” debuted in fall 2003.
“Arrested” was never a ratings hit, and FOX canceled it in 2006. But now the show is back with 15 all-new fourth-season episodes, which just debuted exclusively on Netflix.
The new “Arrested” season is structurally different from the first three, with each episode dedicated to catching viewers up on a single character. Kristin Wiig plays the young Lucille. An “Arrested Development” movie may be next.
Walter also gets prestigious enterprise billing on another current series, the FX ‘toon “Archer,” which is something of a James Bond movie meeting TV’s “The Office.” Walter voices intelligence-agency chief Mallory Archer. The plots are so twisted, scripts so pop-culture crammed, “half of the time, I don’t even understand what’s going on,” Walter said.
With “Arrested Development” back and “Archer” just renewed after a season of record-breaking ratings, it appears to be prime time for the veteran actress.
“You know, you’re bringing tears to my eyes, because I know how lucky I am,” Walter responded. “I hope to be Betty White. I want to be working when I’m 92.”