Jeff Garlin is responding to reports that his conduct on the set of “The Goldbergs” that made people “feel uncomfortable” and contributed to an atmosphere some found “demeaning or unprofessional.”
In a candid interview with Vanity Fair‘s Maureen Ryan, Garlin refuted rumours that he’d been fired from the ABC sitcom.
“No, I was not fired from ‘The Goldbergs’. I have not been fired from ‘The Goldbergs’,” Garlin declared.
However, Garlin revealed that he’s been the subject of “an HR investigation on me the past three years. HR has come to me three years in a row for my behaviour on set,” but insisted that “to be honest with you, there is no story. And I’m saying that in all sincerity, because that’s the thing that has me confused. Even with Sony — we have a difference of opinion, Sony and myself. Okay. My opinion is, I have my process about how I’m funny, in terms of the scene and what I have to do. They feel that it makes for a quote ‘unsafe’ workspace. Now, mind you, my silliness making an unsafe workspace — I don’t understand how that is. And I’m on a comedy show. I am always a kind and thoughtful person. I make mistakes, sure. But my comedy is about easing people’s pain. Why would I ever want to cause pain in anybody for a laugh? That’s bullying. That’s just uncalled for.”
Confronted with allegations that people on the set felt “demeaned and disrespected multiple times” by Garlin’s choice of language and “physical actions,” Garlin shared his suspicions that someone on the set “has it out for” him.
“I gotta be honest with you. I don’t even know how to respond to that, because as a comedian, if somebody is offended by what I say I, all I can say is, I’m sorry. Okay? I have never physically come at anyone, for any reason, so that I find terribly confusing and untrue. Look, I’ve discussed this with the main crew. The camera department, the sound department, the lighting department, and all of these people who worked on my own movie — I did a movie for Netflix called ‘Handsome’ — never have any problems. There was nothing. So whoever it is that feels this way has it out for me. That’s my true belief. I would never physically put myself to someone. And I would never hatefully say something to anyone.”
The crux of Garlin’s argument is that he’s a comedian who pushes boundaries. “If I said something silly and offensive, and I’m working at an insurance company, I think it’s a different situation. If I, as the star of the show, demanded a gun range and on set, and I was firing guns every day and I was a little bit loose — to me, that’s an unsafe work atmosphere. If I threatened people, that’s an unsafe work atmosphere. None of that goes on ever with me. That’s not who I am. I am sorry to tell you that there really is no big story. Unless you want to do a story about political correctness.”
One issue at the heart of the HR complaints has been Garlin’s tendency to hug people, whether they’re welcome or not. He admitted that “I am a person who hugs for sure. And it’s quick hugs, but I didn’t realize that anyone was feeling — so if you want to write that story, that’s a true story. It puts the onus on them to say something, and I would gladly respect anyone who said, ‘Please don’t hug me. I don’t feel comfortable.'”
Garlin also denied an allegation that he “sent a text to a ‘Goldbergs’ colleague saying that they should go to the next table-read wearing only panties.”
“I didn’t write those words. And I’d like to see the text and who I sent it to. But everything that I write like that is about joking. I am respectful of women and women’s bodies. And I don’t make jokes about that, because I don’t find it funny,” he said.
“I’m telling you that I don’t talk that way,” he added. “That’s all, I’m just telling you. That’s not in my M.O. Really. It’s not.”
As for his future on “The Goldbergs”, Garlin admitted things at the moment were very much in flux.
“We’re trying to come to a place where we come to an agreement. Either I can behave the way [they want] or not. We’ll see, but I’m not being fired and I’ve not been fired,” he explained. “We’re in the middle of talking about what we’re going to do, but there will not be a firing. I will work more on ‘The Goldbergs’, just to let you know, I’m in contact with Sony. I will be shooting more days on the show. When I do shoot more days, just to make it go smooth, I will not be doing any of my silly stuff or anything, out of respect. I’m just going to keep it on the QT, because you know why? They’re my bosses. And they have every right to have the set be the way they want.”
Responding to People, a Sony Pictures Television spokesperson said, “The well-being of our cast and crew is of utmost importance to us. This is an employment matter and it is being addressed by HR and production.”