Jeff Garlin Addresses Reports of Inappropriate On-Set Behavior

The actor responded to a recent rumor in a candid, frustrating interview

Jeff Garlin, 2019
Jeff Garlin attends the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures "It Chapter Two" at Regency Village Theatre on August 26, 2019 in Westwood, California.
Emma McIntyre/FilmMagic

Comedian and actor Jeff Garlin is a familiar face on many a show — including roles on both Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Goldbergs. When it comes to the latter, however, questions have arisen about his behavior on set and his future on the show. Television critic Maureen Ryan recently wrote about a rumor she heard last week: that Garlin had been fired from his role on The Goldbergs. (According to Garlin, this is not the case.)

Her attempts to learn more are at the heart of a new article published by Vanity Fair, which includes a lengthy interview with Garlin. (More on that in a moment, too.) Ryan spoke with a trio of former employees who’d previously worked on the show. They told her that he “allegedly engaged in a pattern of verbal and physical conduct on set that made people uncomfortable,” including inappropriate language and touching.

Garlin eventually reached out to Ryan, who interviewed him about the situation at The Goldbergs and, more broadly, power dynamics in the film and television industry. Garlin’s comments are candid, and are occasionally frustrating — as during one moment, when Garlin wonders why someone wouldn’t feel comfortable just telling him that they’d prefer for him not to hug or touch them. “Do you understand that you have the power, because you’re the star and they have no power?” Ryan asks in response.

He does, however, mention that HR has spoken to him in each of the last three years. “It’s about me and my silliness on set. They don’t think it’s appropriate. I do,” Garlin told Ryan. “That’s where we’re at. I’ve not been fired because of it. We just think differently.”

The whole interview is well worth your time — both for what’s said and what’s implied. As Ryan wrote on Twitter, “Industry power imbalances are enormous & those at/near top can have a hard time seeing that.”

That might make for the most frustrating aspect of Garlin’s comments. He seems sincere when he says that he would stop saying or doing certain things if someone asked him to do so, but doesn’t quite understand why someone would hesitate and feel that their job might be at stake if they did.

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