An armchair on the set of “The Goldbergs” will be noticeably unoccupied.
Two sources close to production told HuffPost that Jeff Garlin is no longer with the ABC comedy series. One of the sources also said that Garlin’s exit was a mutual decision between the actor and Sony Pictures Entertainment, which produces “The Goldbergs.”
The comedian’s exit follows an HR investigation that stemmed from multiple complaints about his behavior on the set.
Garlin has played a key role on the feel-good family comedy since the series premiered in 2013, portraying Murray, the Goldberg family’s lovably grumpy patriarch who often does not wear pants and roams around their Philadelphia suburban home in a shirt and briefs.
The cast and crew of “The Goldbergs” were informed of Garlin’s departure during production Wednesday, per The Hollywood Reporter. The show is currently in its ninth season, and Garlin was initially expected to complete production on the season, but will no longer do it, THR reports. It is unclear how the show will explain his character’s sudden absence.
Representatives for Garlin, ABC and Sony declined to comment.
Garlin’s exit from the show comes after a Vanity Fair interview in September in which Garlin acknowledged that there has been an ongoing HR investigation into his on-set behavior for the past three years.
The magazine reported that it spoke to sources from “The Goldbergs” who said Garlin would touch or hug people whether or not they were comfortable with the physical contact.
“He got away with it because he would call himself out for it — saying he was a big teddy bear, saying things like, ‘Oh you know me, just a big bowl of mush, I’m a hugger. I just love you,’” one source told Vanity Fair.
Garlin — who also serves as an executive producer on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” — also allegedly used language often on “The Goldbergs” set that some felt was inappropriate or demeaning.
In response to the hugging allegations, Garlin admitted that he was “a person who hugs for sure” but he didn’t realize that the physical affection made others uncomfortable. He said that he’d “gladly respect anyone” who told him they were not comfortable with the hugging. When Vanity Fair pointed out how someone may feel apprehensive about confronting him about it due to the power dynamics on set, Garlin said that the person has “every right” to go to HR — though he’d prefer they go to their department heads with the complaint instead.
In regards to his language, Garlin defended himself, chalking it up to his “silliness on set.”
“Well, to be honest with you, there is no story,” Garlin said in the interview. “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 ... 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.”
When pressed on whether he was considering an exit from “The Goldbergs,” Garlin responded by saying, “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 ... 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.”