Who Is Jason Bateman?
Jason Bateman made his television debut in 1981 on Little House on the Prairie. In the 1980s and '90s, he earned a string of roles on sitcoms like Silver Spoons, while also taking a few film parts. Following a professional lull, Bateman's career was revitalized when he landed a role on the show Arrested Development in 2003. Later successes include the dark comedy Horrible Bosses (2011) and voice work for the animated hit Zootopia (2016), along with acclaim for his directing and acting contributions to the Netflix crime drama Ozark.
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.
TV and Films
'Little House on the Prairie,' 'Silver Spoons'
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 pioneers 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.
'The Hogan Family'
Bateman moved on to 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, playing one of Harper's three sons. When Harper exited after the second season, the show continued 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.
'Can You Feel Me Dancing?,' 'Teen Wolf Too'
While enjoying sitcom success, Bateman 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 (1987), 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.
'Simon' 'Chicago Sons,' 'Some of My Best Friends'
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.
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.
Career Resurgence: 'Arrested Development'
In 2003, Bateman experienced a professional renaissance with the TV comedy Arrested Development. 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 was cast as his domineering mother and Jeffrey Tambor came on board as the quirky father facing fraud charges. Each of his adult siblings (played by Will Arnett, Tony Hale and Portia de Rossi) displayed a unique twisted outlook on life.
While it never achieved huge ratings, Arrested Development was a critical success. The show was nominated for several Emmy Awards during its initial 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. Following another hiatus, Season 5 premiered on Netflix in May 2018.
'Dodgeball,' 'The Break-Up,' 'The Kingdom'
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. Tackling more dramatic fare, Bateman appeared in the military thriller The Kingdom (2007) 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 play 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.
'State of Play,' 'Couples Retreat,' 'Up in the Air'
With roles in five films released in 2009, Bateman's film career was 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.
'Horrible Bosses,' 'Identity Thief,' 'Bad Words'
In 2010, Bateman starred opposite Aniston in the romantic comedy The Switch. He followed with the comedies Horrible Bosses (2011), with Colin Farrell and Charlie Day, and Identity Thief (2013), 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 also narrated A LEGO Brickumentary, a documentary about the global appeal of Lego building blocks, in 2015.
'Zootopia,' 'Central Intelligence,' 'Ozark'
In 2016, Bateman supplied more voice work for the massively successful animated film Zootopia, and also appeared in the comedies Central Intelligence and Office Christmas Party. The following year, he stepped outside of his usual comfort zone for the Netflix dramatic series Ozark, going on to earn Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for his role as a family man who gets caught up with a drug cartel. In 2019, he was honored for his directing contributions to Ozark by winning an Emmy for Outstanding Direction of a Drama Series, among other major award wins throughout the course of the series.
Bateman is married wife Amanda Anka, the daughter of singer Paul Anka, in 2003 and they have two daughters.
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