‘Little House on the Prairie’: Jason Bateman’s Character Survived a Bear Trap, a Gunshot, and More

Jason Bateman is known for his work in TV and movies. The actor has impressed critics and audiences through his performances in Ozark, Arrested Development, Zootopia, and Juno. However, many fans might not know about his childhood acting roles. In the early ’80s, Jason Bateman appeared in the classic TV drama Little House on the Prairie. And his character endured an absurd number of tragedies.

Jason Bateman has enjoyed a long and successful Hollywood career

Bateman has been acting almost his entire life. He has starred in hit movies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Horrible Bosses, The Family Fang, and Game Night. The star has also earned SAG Award and Golden Globe nominations for his work on Arrested Development and won a SAG Award and an Emmy for Ozark

Bateman was born in Rye, New York, and moved to Salt Lake City with his family before settling in California. He began acting when he was 10 years old, appearing in a Golden Grahams cereal commercial before scoring his big break: playing James Cooper Ingalls on the popular Little House on the Prairie

From bear traps to bank robberies, Jason Bateman’s ‘Little House on the Prairie’ character endured a lot

Jason Bateman on Little House on the Prairie
Jason Bateman in three scenes from ‘Little House on the Prairie’ | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

On Little House on the Prairie, Jason Bateman portrayed a 12-year-old orphan whose parents died in a wagon accident. James and his younger sister, Cassandra, stay with the Ingalls family while searching for a permanent home. But eventually, Caroline and Charles Ingalls adopt the two children. 

Bateman went on to appear in 21 episodes of the series. Throughout his time on the show, the actor’s character suffered numerous tragedies. Aside from mourning his parents’ death, the boy also got caught in a bear trap, took a bullet during a bank robbery, and slipped into a coma. But he survived it all.

Jason Bateman recalls ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and star Michael Landon

When speaking about his time on the show, Jason Bateman has had nothing but good things to say about the cast and crew. 

“The way in which everybody functioned was very familial,” the actor said of the Little House on the Prairie set in a 2017 Variety interview. “It was a warm place, and I remember in the few years that followed … I would end up on sets that were less functional.”

Bateman also spoke of his admiration for the show’s lead, Michael Landon. The actor rose to fame on Bonanza and played Charles Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie

The Juno star said Landon had a “huge influence” on him through his leadership as “an exec producer, as a writer and actor, and as somewhat of a father figure” during Bateman’s time on the show.

Bateman also called Landon “the George Clooney of that time” and said the “crew loved him, the industry loved him, guys wanted to be him, and women wanted to be with him.”

The actor calls his career ‘a pressure cooker’


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Even though Little House on the Prairie and a supporting role in Silver Spoons made Jason Bateman a household name at a young age, the actor said he still had to work hard to land more roles. 

He revealed that he was “constantly” trying to get hired and that his career has been “a pressure cooker.” But Bateman’s hard work as a child actor clearly paid off.