Portia de Rossi’s unusual appearance in the newly released fifth season of TV comedy "Arrested Development" has left fans of the show confused and angry.
It’s not a bad haircut or unfortunate choice of wardrobe that has fans rattled — it’s the fact that de Rossi frequently appears via green screen, having filmed her scenes entirely separately from her co-stars.
Longtime "Arrested Development" viewers will remember that a reliance on green screen afflicted the show’s much-maligned fourth season. Scheduling conflicts during filming in 2013 meant many of the main cast members had to film their scenes separately and get “pasted in” during post-production.
It was a far from seamless process, and made for a distracting viewing exprience.
Producers assured us that those wrongs would be righted for season five. The cast were all back on board, and crucially, all were available to shoot at the same time.
Except, it seems, when it comes to Aussie-born de Rossi, who appears via hard-to-miss green screen in many of her scenes as Lindsay Bluth.
Twitter user @MrEAnders tweeted a compilation of particularly odd shots of de Rossi from the season so far — noting that her character repeatedly appears with a sheet over her head, in protest to her mother’s jibes about her appearance (handily, it’s also easier to write de Rossi into a scene when all you need is her voice and you can have a stand-in play her while hidden under a sheet).
So why this bizarre absence from set?
De Rossi made headlines earlier this month with an appearance on wife Ellen de Generes’ talk show, in which she announced she had all-but-retired from acting and had initially told "Arrested Development" creator Mitch Hurwitz she would not take part in season five.
“He seemed understanding and totally got it and we had a great conversation — and then he wrote me into five episodes,” she said.
“Don’t know how it happened but I am on season five.”
And she was a notable absence from the cast’s disastrous group interview with The New York Times, in which the male actors spoke over a tearful Jessica Walter as she attempted to detail the “verbal harassment” she’d received from co-star Jeffrey Tambor in the past.
Given the retired de Rossi is not filming any other projects, were her green-screened scenes a stipulation from the reluctant star herself?
Was it an attempt by de Rossi to remove herself from a set that’s played host to the worst verbal harassment co-star Walter says she’s experienced in her 60 years of acting?
Whatever the reason, de Rossi’s absence makes for a very noticeable issue in the final product, with some fans saying they’d have preferred her character written out than green screened in.