Jason Bateman Interview: ‘Ozark’
“The morning was more exciting than usual,” reveals Jason Bateman about getting Best Drama Actor and Best Drama Directing nominations at the Emmys for the first season of “Ozark.” In our exclusive webchat (watch the video above), he adds that he was “running a little bit late that morning. I was watching the announcements on the laptop and was genuinely not expecting to be included. So it was really exciting to hear my name called out and then rush to get the kids to camp. Once I got the kids there and back to the car, I was told I got director too. That was really surprising.”
He plays Marty Byrde, a financial planner who moves his family to the Ozarks in Missouri after a money laundering scheme results in him owing a large debt to a Mexican drug lord. Bateman reflects, “I hope I’m not as convinced of my intelligence as Marty is. He thinks he’s smarter than he is. If he was really smart, he wouldn’t be in this mess. If only he wasn’t as greedy, or prone to surrendering to laziness in his attempt to grab his American dream. I’m a little more pragmatic and disciplined. I don’t have much of a sprinter’s mentality; clearly Marty does.” But Bateman jokes, “I do look a lot like him. There’s an uncanny resemblance.”
For Drama Actor, Bateman submitted the 80-minute season finale “The Toll,” which is also his nominated episode for directing. On bringing together his performance and directorial jobs, he says, “I’m never usually the funny guy or the scary guy. I usually play the audience’s proxy. I like that role. It’s probably why I’m so attracted to directing. As an actor I’m the portal for the audience to experience the event, and then as a director your job is to shape the audience’s experience. So, now I’ve got two hands on the wheel to hit the specific tonal target I’m after.”
Bateman reflects that with the directorial process “it’s a pretty neat thing creating fake life. It’s a sneaky though thing to do. There are a lot of very specific and mundane parts of the process that are so effective and affecting in what the audience receives. The difference between doing a little bit this way, or a little bit that way, at every point in the process will be the difference between something that is bad or good, and ultimately good or great. To be as aware of what everybody is doing on set helps me make those choices as well as I possibly can. It is a job of choices.”
Season 2 of “Ozark” premieres August 31 on Netflix. His other recent show, “Arrested Development,” is now streaming the recently-released Season 5 on Netflix. That comedy series brought him two acting nominations prior to this year (2005, 2013).