Actor Jason Bateman was born on January 14, 1969, in Rye, New York. He made his television debut in 1981 on Little House on the Prairie. In the 1980s and '90s, he took a string of roles on sitcoms like Silver Spoons, while also taking a few film parts. In 2001, Bateman starred on the failed series Some of My Best Friend, but his film career was revitalized after he landed a role on the show Arrested Development in 2003.
Early Life and Career
Jason Kent Bateman was born on January 14, 1969, in Rye, New York. Starting out as an actor while in his early teen years, Jason Bateman has grown up to become one of today's leading comedic actors. He comes from a show business family—father Kent is a producer and sister Justine is an actress. Around the age of 10, Bateman began to act professionally. He soon started to land work in commercials.
Bateman made his television debut in 1981 with a recurring role on Little House on the Prairie. In the popular series based on the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, he played the adopted son of pioneer Charles and Caroline Ingalls (played by Michael Landon and Karen Grassle). Bateman first showed his comedic talents in the popular sitcom Silver Spoons starring Rick Schroder in 1982. On the series, Bateman played Schroder's scheming school friend. His boy-next-door good looks and sense of humor made him very popular with younger audiences, especially teenaged girls.
Leaving the show after the first two seasons, Bateman starred on the short-lived TV comedy It's Your Move, playing yet another scheming teen. He soon landed a supporting role on another family comedy with Valerie Harper of The Mary Tyler Moore Show fame. He played one of Harper's three sons. After a dispute with the show's producers, Harper left the series after the first season. The show continued on as The Hogan Family, and Sandy Duncan joined the cast as the boys' aunt. Bateman also explored life behind the camera, directing three episodes of the show. For his efforts, at the age of 18, he became the youngest person inducted into the Directors Guild of America.
During the run of the series, Bateman found time for other projects. He co-starred with sister Justine in the 1986 television movie Can You Feel Me Dancing?, which was co-produced by their father. In the movie, Justine played a blind teenager trying to break free from her overprotective family and friends. Bateman played her brother in the film. Bateman then made his feature film debut in the poorly received Teen Wolf Too, the sequel to the 1985 comedic hit starring Michael J. Fox. He played a relative of Fox's character who discovers that he also suffers from the family's werewolf curse. Grossing only $7.6 million at the box office, the film was considered a commercial failure. Bateman's father had also produced this film.
After The Hogan Family ended in 1991, Bateman continued to find work on television. None of these roles lasted for long, however. The family comedy Simon only lasted one season, from the fall of 1995 to the spring of 1996. The show focused on the lives of two very different brothers sharing an apartment in New York City. Next up for Bateman was Chicago Sons, a comedy about three brothers and their romantic misadventures. The show was a midseason replacement and was canceled after six months on the air.
Taking a professional risk, Bateman stepped away from his usual sitcom roles for the 2001 series Some of My Best Friends. The show was based the 1997 independent comedy Kiss Me, Guido, which explored the relationship between a gay man (Bateman) and a straight Italian American man (Danny Nucci) who become roommates. "What makes me laugh about my character is that he's not really as smart or cool or good-looking as he thinks he is. I think this show is the best thing I've ever done," Bateman told The Advocate. Critics and television audiences did not share Bateman's opinion of the show, and it was canceled after only a few episodes.
Breakout Role: 'Arrested Development'
Bateman entered an uncertain time in his career after the failure of the series. "After 26 years of doing something, most people either switch course or retire ... I was wearing out my welcome on TV; you get certain vibes that they'd rather see someone they hadn't seen before," the actor explained to Vogue.
In 2003, Bateman experienced a professional renaissance with the TV comedy Arrested Development (2003-06, 2013). He played Michael Bluth, a widower with a teenaged son (Michael Cera) who can't seem to break away from his dysfunctional family. Jessica Walter played his domineering mother and Jeffrey Tambor played his quirky father who was facing fraud charges. Each of his adult siblings (played by Will Arnett, Tony Hale, and Portia de Rossi) were uniquely twisted in his or her own special way.
While it never achieved huge ratings, Arrested Development was a critical success. The show was nominated for several Emmy Awards during its three-season run, including a nod for Bateman in 2005 for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series. That same year, Bateman won his first Golden Globe Award for best actor in a musical or comedy series.
After just three seasons on FOX, Arrested Development was canceled by the network in 2006. To fans' delight, however, the series was renewed by Netflix in 2013, with the entire original cast reuniting for its fourth season.
Bateman's work on the initial run of Arrested Development helped revitalize his film career. He landed a string of small and supporting roles in such comedies as 2004's Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and 2006's The Break-Up with Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. He continued to be in demand for film work after Arrested Development was canceled in 2006. Tackling more dramatic fare, Bateman appeared in the military thriller The Kingdom with Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner.
Bateman reteamed with Garner for the 2007 independent comedy Juno about a pregnant teenager (Ellen Page). In the film, he and Garner played a married couple who want to adopt Page's baby. Bateman gave a nuanced performance as a commercial jingle writer who, at mid-life, still harbors dreams of rock stardom and doesn't seem to want to grow up. The following year, he co-starred with Will Smith and Charlize Theron in the superhero comedy Hancock.
With roles in five films released in 2009, Bateman's film career appears to be flourishing. He starred in Mike Judge's latest comedy Extract, playing the owner of an extract bottling company. In the political thriller State of Play, he had a supporting role opposite Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, and Rachel McAdams. Bateman was also part of an ensemble cast for the relationship comedy Couples Retreat and had a part in the critically acclaimed comedic drama Up in the Air, starring George Clooney.
In 2010, Bateman starred opposite Jennifer Aniston in the romantic comedy The Switch. His later films include the comedies Horrible Bosses (2011), in which he starred alongside Colin Farrell and Charlie Day; and Identity Thief (2013), starring alongside Melissa McCarthy. In 2013, he also made his directorial debut and starred in Bad Words. In 2014, Bateman starred in the comedies This Is Where I Leave You and Horrible Bosses 2 and narrated the documentary Pump. He narrated A LEGO Brickumentary, a documentary about the global appeal of Lego building blocks, in 2015.
Bateman lives in Los Angeles, California, with his wife Amanda, the daughter of singer Paul Anka. The couple married in 2003 and welcomed their first child, Francesca, in 2006.
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