‘Ozark’ Star Jason Bateman Got His Directorial Start With One Project

by Thad Mitchell
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Jason Bateman, star of the thrilling “Ozark,” is a man of many talents and they are on full display with his hit Netflix series.

On “Ozark,” Jason Bateman plays the lead role of Marty Byrde, a family man who is drug deep into the criminal underworld. As impressive as his “Ozark” work is in the front of the camera is, his work behind the camera is also award-worthy. Through four seasons, Bateman has directed a double-digit number of “Ozark” episodes, earning a great deal of acclaim along the way. But the intense thriller series is not his only directorial experience. His first role as a film director came in 2013 with “Bad Words,” a black comedy he also stars in. The film revolves around Bateman’s character, a 40-year-old man who enters a spelling bee for children and wins. Bateman also directed episodes of his hit comedy “Arrested Development.”

Much like with his acting, Bateman has won a great deal of acclaim for his “Ozark” directing. In 2019, he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series. He’s also won two Screen Actors Guild Awards for his performance on-screen. In an interview with The Guardian, Bateman discussed balancing his time in front of and behind the “Ozark” camera.

“It’s more efficient for me to be playing a character in something because that’s one less person I need to direct,” he says. “I don’t have to have any sort of creative negotiation with that actor. Especially when I’m the lead character, I can just adjust my own performance to motivate a different performance out of the other actor. I can get them to speed up or slow down or trick them by being more emotional.”

‘Ozark’ Star Jason Bateman Speaks on Writing for His Character

A financial advisor by trade, Marty Byrde doubles as the Navarro Cartel’s money washer. His wife, Wendy Byrde, played by Laura Linney, handles the political side of their ventures. The couple’s children, Charlotte and Jonah, are also in on the family business. Bateman says directing and writing the characters, especially his own, is a challenge.

“Marty and Wendy are really intelligent characters,” he says. “Sometimes that narrows your options as a writer, trying to keep things plausible. They can’t do really stupid things. The smart thing to do is to turn yourself in. Then the show’s over.”

While some may say directing and acting in a show is a bit much for just one person, Bateman says there is a natural advantage built-in.

“It’s more efficient for me to be playing a character in something because that’s one less person I need to direct,” he says. “I don’t have to have any sort of creative negotiation with that actor. Especially when I’m the lead character, I can just adjust my own performance to motivate a different performance out of the other actor. I can get them to speed up or slow down or trick them by being more emotional.”

Outsider.com