courtesy photoIn “Bad Words

courtesy photoIn “Bad Words

Jason Bateman embraces bad in ‘Bad Words’

Jason Bateman plays a bad man in “Bad Words,” the first feature film he has directed.

“I’m not talented enough to become someone completely different,” says the affable “Arrested Development” actor, recently in The City to promote the R-rated comedy, which opens Friday.

He says he found aspects of the character — an angry man in his 40s who willfully sabotages his child competitors in spelling bees — in “a dark, dark corner” of his personality: “I went back to a time when I didn’t know when to stop, liked too much attention and got my feelings hurt too easily.”

He also admits, “I enjoy the challenge of playing a character who’s despicable on paper.” And after not getting his first choice to play the primary role in the film — he won’t mention names — he says he also enjoyed not having to direct the lead actor.

Drawn to movies with a “specific tone” combining comedy and drama such as “Being John Malkovich,” Bateman purposely chose a “containable” character-driven film as his directorial debut: “There are not a lot of tricks, explosions or effects.”

It’s also not for everyone: “It has kids in it, but you can’t have kids come see it,” he says.

If he had the opportunity, Bateman would direct full-time, and he points to Paul Thomas Anderson, David O. Russell and Spike Jonze as filmmakers whose productions he admires.

In the meantime, he’ll continue to act and direct. He’s looking forward to doing both in “The Family Fang,” a project he’s working on with Nicole Kidman that’s based on Kevin Wilson’s daring novel about a seemingly wacky family of performance artists.

He also has a big starring role in the long-awaited film adaptation of Jonathan Tropper’s hilarious best-seller “This Is Where I Leave You.”

Bateman, who says Tropper told him he wrote the book’s hangdog protagonist character with him in mind, adds, “I’m not sure whether to be offended or flattered by that.”

Meanwhile, the funny 45-year-old actor, who appears to be about 30 in person, takes flattery with humor. Praised for looking so great, he quips, “Injections.”


Bad Words

Starring Jason Bateman, Rohan Chand, Kathryn Hahn, Allison Janney, Philip Baker Hall

Written by Andrew Dodge

Directed by Jason Bateman

Rated R

Running time 1 hour, 29 minutesartsBad WordsdirectorJason BatemanMovies

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City College union deal staves off layoffs, class cuts

One year agreement allows community college time to improve its finances

A Homeless Outreach Team member speaks with homeless people along Jones Street in the Tenderloin on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Breed proposes another street outreach team to divert calls away from police

San Francisco would launch a new street outreach team to respond to… Continue reading

Chelsea Hung, who owns Washington Bakery and Restaurant in Chinatown with her mother, said the restaurant is only making about 30 percent of pre-pandemic revenues. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Chinatown’s slow recovery has business owners fearing for the future

Lack of outside visitors threatens to push neighborhood into ‘downward spiral’

A worker sets up irrigation lines to water almond tree rootstocks along Road 36 in Tulare, Calif. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Gov. Gavin Newsom extends drought emergency to 41 California counties

Faith E. Pinho Los Angeles Times In a stark indication of California’s… Continue reading

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new stimulus plan on Monday. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner file photo)
More Californians would get new $600 stimulus checks from the state under Newsom plan

Sophia Bollag The Sacramento Bee Two-thirds of Californians would get an extra… Continue reading

Most Read