Why Jason Bateman Likes Playing the ‘Unsettled Everyman’

Jason Bateman has starred in shows like Arrested Development and Ozark and films like Juno, Game Night, and Horrible Bosses. While it might seem like Bateman is typecast, he is always in control of the parts he plays. Find out why Bateman likes playing the “unsettled everyman” in every project he takes on. 

Jason Bateman
Jason Bateman | Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Jason Bateman is the ‘Everyman’

As a Bateman fan, you may have noticed that he tends to play the quirky “Everyman” a lot. Throughout his work in movies and television, Bateman always seems to be the awkward father figure with a lot going on beneath the surface.

Complicated characters like Michael Bluth in Arrested Development and Mark Loring in Juno are what Bateman is drawn to. 

‘Ozark’ is one of Jason Bateman’s darkest projects 

In Ozark, Bateman’s character, Marty Byrde, gets caught up in a world of money laundering and corruption. Employed by the Navarro cartel, witnessing death becomes part of Marty’s job. Throughout the show’s three seasons, watching and even partaking in murder becomes second nature to Marty.

Not only does Bateman play the morally corrupt patriarch of the Bryde family — he produces and directs Ozark, too. Bateman takes a hands-on approach to much of the behind-the-scenes work for the Netflix series. He even came up with one of the show’s gruesome death scenes. 

When Ash (Michael Tourek), Jacob (Peter Mullan) and Darlene Snell’s (Lisa Emery) righthand man was killed in season 2, Bateman came up with the idea for the scene.

In season 1, Camino Del Rio (Esai Morales) was shot in the head at the Snell home. Because the location of Ash’s death was to be the same, Bateman wanted the method to be a bit different.

Originally, Ash’s death was written as a fatal gunshot wound, but Bateman suggested having Jacob hit him in the head with a piece of lumber, then stab Ash in the back with a fireplace poker. 

That’s the darkness within Bateman at play. 

Jason Bateman tries to put ‘darkness’ in every role he plays

In an interview with NPR, Bateman discussed how he is drawn to darkness. “I’m plenty dark,” he said. “It’s always been in there. I enjoy getting to unapologetically speak some of that and behave some of that through [Marty Byrde].”

Bateman’s obsession with darkness doesn’t stop there. “I’ve always tried to put a little bit of darkness [into my work],” he elaborated. “Even in comedies, I’ll rarely be the wacky guy.” 

Jason Bateman plays the ‘Everyman’ so audiences can relate

As an actor, Bateman strives to play roles that are relatable to an audience. “I’ll try to be the somewhat tortured or unsettled Everyman or protagonist,” he told NPR. “I like doing that because I’m us. I’m the proxy. I’m sort of the portal that the audience receives all the craziness [through].” 

RELATED: ‘Ozark’: How Jason Bateman Tells the Cast About Their Character’s Death

Whether it’s an eccentric comedy character like Michael Bluth or a scary, dramatic character, Bateman always seeks to represent his audience. 

“When the camera goes to me, I’m reacting for you in the audience to keep it relatable,” he concluded.