Lucille Bluth: Jessica Walter’s Finest Performance

With the recent passing of the brilliant actor Jessica Walter, we want to pay tribute to her finest performance.

That’s as the very haughty, very bitchy, but strangely very loveable Lucille Bluth in Arrested Development.

The Very Best of Lucille Bluth’s Bitchiness

Arrested Development, at its peak, remains one of the finest comedy shows in history. The first three seasons from 2003-2006 are incredible.

Unfortunately, the show’s initial run was ended by the studio. But Netflix eventually brought it back with some hit-and-miss new series. After a disappointing fifth season in 2019, the show finished for good.

What remained fantastic about it, despite the lull, was Jessica Walter’s performance as Lucille Bluth.

The matriarch of a highly dysfunctional family, she’s the mother of Michael, Buster, Gob, and adoptive mother to Lindsay.

Her behaviour is pretty erratic, often spending most of her time bitching about everything around her.

And she also gets pretty drunk on regular occasions, which causes a lot of issues for the Bluth family business.

Whilst Lucille is bigoted, boorish, spoiled, and completely self-centered, she’s also pretty loveable.

She has a certain vulnerability to her that Walter really put into the role. This largely comes across in her heavy drinking, but also her voice often hints at certain frustrations.

She takes this frustration (some of which appears to be down to ageing) out on her children, to whom she’s pretty manipulative and conniving.

Lucille is often angry at everyone, it seems, and shares a friendly (almost imaginary) rivalry with her namesake Lucille 2 (Lucille Austero, played by Liza Minnelli).

Lucille Bluth doesn’t seem to work and, in fits of boredom, can only play Machiavellian games to keep herself entertained.

Although Arrested Development does occasionally hint that she’s the rock holding the Bluth family together.

It’s just she does this in a subtle, caustic, and churlish way. Playing around with her family’s emotions in the background in an attempt to keep everyone close together.

And that’s despite the fact she doesn’t like some of her children. Particularly the unusual, and attention-starved, Gob who she says she doesn’t care for.

Walter was an actor with many decades of big and small screen appearance. She described herself as the polar opposite of Lucille, but that’s good acting for you, eh?

Although she did say she found a childlike, fun aspect to Lucille’s character. Which you can see in action above in reaction to Gene Parmesan’s many reveals.

She always seems excessively, joyously amazed to be surprised. Perhaps hinting at her inner boredom at her motherly role? Who knows!

But sadly, we must say goodbye to Jessica Walter. And we can’t think of any better way than to celebrate this most excellent of characters.

Film buffs will also remember her from roles in Grand Prix (1966) and Play Misty For Me (1971), the latter alongside Clint Eastwood. And she had many TV roles.

But we think a lovely tribute was from actor Tony Hale, who played Buster. The son Lucille essentially terrorises into child-like subservience for life.

Lucille Bluth would give a drunken eye-roll, but we think it’s a nice little tribute. That got almost 300,000 likes.

Testament to Arrested Development’s popularity. And the awesomeness of the actor who played Mrs. Bluth. 

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