Jason Bateman started his acting career in the 1970s, and he became a huge child star. His personal and professional road was bumpy, and the glamorous veneer of success hid many troubling truths. As he transitioned awkwardly into adulthood, he faced insecurities and addictions. But Bateman not only survived—he thrived. Here are 50 facts about Jason Bateman, one of Hollywood’s nicest guys.
1. Million Dollar Babies
Enough is known now about the sad fates of many kid stars from the 1970s and 1980s to say that fame and wealth are never enough. Bateman and his sister, fellow actor Justine, were both breakout kid stars who made enough money to support their parents. As Bateman admitted later in life, that’s when the trouble started.
2. Spoonfuls Of Trouble
How do kid actors grow up with a Hollywood backlot as their neighborhood? Bateman co-starred with Ricky Schroeder on a popular 1980s sitcom, Silver Spoons, and those kids were brats between takes. They delighted in stealing goldfish from a manmade lake on the lot and feeding those poor little fish to bigger fish that Schroeder kept in a tank onset.
3. New Kids On The Block
The Bateman family didn’t settle down in Los Angeles until 1981, and Jason Bateman spent the first decade of his life following his showbiz-seeking dad and flight attendant mom from New York State to Massachusetts and then Salt Lake City. Did this instability hurt Bateman? Nope. He excelled at fitting into new schools and new communities.
4. Too Young To Make The Bacon
Jason Bateman has a firm and unflattering opinion about having been a celebrity kid, saddled with being a major breadwinner in his family. He called it an unhealthy situation, and he fired his dad from a managerial role as he neared adulthood. Bateman has said his relationship with his parents remains “off-and-on.”
5. In The Right Direction
Jason Bateman appeared in several family-friendly comedies in the 1980s, generally typecast as a scheming teen. His acting chops weren’t stretched far, but Bateman was able to flex other artistic muscles by directing three episodes of The Hogan Family, a show he co-starred in. That accomplishment earned Bateman an induction into the Directors Guild of America when he was 18 years old—the Guild’s youngest inductee ever.
6. A Howling Failure
Bateman starred in his first feature film in 1987—a project he would quickly regret. The movie was Teen Wolf Too, a spin-off of the 1985 hit film Teen Wolf that had starred a young and very bankable Michael J. Fox. Bateman’s father produced the poorly received sequel that grossed less than $8 million in ticket sales. But don’t worry, the best—and the worst—was yet to come.
7. School Of Life
Life lessons hit Jason Bateman hard following the release of the disastrous Teen Wolf Too, and his book learning also suffered. Bateman confessed that he never finished high school, having been absent too much during the making of his first movie. And dissolving the business relationship with his father led to more personal and professional uncertainties.
8. The Awkward Phase
December 1987 marked the beginning of a difficult transition from child stars into adulthood for Bateman and his sister, Justine. Kent and Vicki, their dad and mom, divorced after 23 years of marriage. Both Bateman kids saw their feature film debuts bomb at the box office, and they had to battle rumors of difficult behavior onset and off.
9. Tom Cruise Approved
Jason Bateman has labeled his late teenaged years as a real-life Risky Business. His parents spent a lot of time away from home, leaving him with a steady stream of cash—he had earned it, after all—in a big house, with a fancy car to abuse. Bateman had worked long and hard during his childhood. By his 20th birthday, he wanted to “play hard.” And did he ever.
10. Hollywood High
Bateman remembers going into auditions in his twenties and “acting twice.” He’s referring to a very confusing time when his career was basically at a standstill. His natural inclination was to be affable and ambitious with casting directors. But he knew, in a callous environment like Hollywood, playing hard to get and acting indifferent—like some cocky high school kid—went farther with industry people than being his authentic self.
Unfortunately, that meant that as Bateman got older, his reputation just got worse and worse.
11. A One On The Self Control Scale
When you’re out partying, why not take a six and make it a 10? That’s Bateman’s explanation for why his substance problem got so out of control in his twenties. He mistakenly believed that every social situation had to be taken to the next level: If he was drinking, he had to black out. He couldn’t comprehend why people would stop, even when it was self-destructive.
It was only a matter of time before it caught up to him.
12. No More Junk Food Heaven
Jason Bateman uses a basic junk food analogy to explain why he quit his addictions. He came to realize that alcohol was a crutch he needed to feel alive and fun in his twenties, calling it “…like ketchup and French fries…I don’t want one without the other.” Eventually, he knew he had to “step up and graduate into adulthood.”
13. Friend Of A Friend
Friends alum Jennifer Aniston is a frequent costar and collaborator in Bateman’s more recent movies, and their solid friendship goes way back. They met in 1994, at the height of Bateman’s professional dry spell, when his addictions and wild antics were out of control. Aniston recalls Bateman once driving his Range Rover backward up a street with the door wide open.
14. ‘Til Drugs Do Us Part
Jason Bateman first met his future wife Amanda Anka when he was 18 years old. He wasn’t marriage-minded then, just engrossed in partying hard. He came to his senses—to a point—and married Anka in 2001, but his substance problem didn’t end with the “I Dos.” Anka finally had enough, and she gave Bateman a huge reality check for the holidays…
15. I’ll Have A Blue Christmas Without You
One evening, Bateman came home late and intoxicated—again—to an upset wife. Anka gave Bateman a specific ultimatum: He had to quit partying. Stubbornly, Bateman didn’t listen. But Anka wasn’t joking, and she left for Christmas in Mexico without him. Bateman woke up alone on a miserable and rainy December 25th. He joined AA that day.
16. From Her To Eternity
Jason Bateman’s marriage is a Hollywood abnormality. It’s so everyday life, it seems almost unbelievable. Bateman has offered some practical tips for a successful marriage, and they’re sweet as heck too. He believes that “friends last longer,” and he married a friend who knows when to “bug” him. When they do fight, it’s quick and clean or not at all.
17. Bet You Think This Song Is About You
Maybe you’ve heard of singer-songwriter Paul Anka? Perhaps his most famous hit song is “My Way.” Bateman and Anka’s daughter, Amanda, were teenaged friends who fell in love and got married. In honor of the nuptials, Anka wrote new lyrics and changed the title, singing “His Way” to Bateman during the wedding reception.
18. Maybe Don’t Share Your Feelings
Bateman’s marriage advice is poignant, but he wasn’t born a relationship sage. As a teenaged actor, he once appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Bateman told Carson that he wanted to play the dating field. Sounds fine for a kid his age, but Bateman also said he felt “locked up” by his high school sweetheart at the time, Dawn Garrett. Oh, snap.
19. Messily Ever After
Nobody said Bateman’s marriage is perfect—we’re talking real life here. He says there’s a list “about a mile long” of his annoying habits. His worst habit is kitchen-related: When he makes his morning breakfast shakes, he often doesn’t fasten the lid on the blender properly. When the shake splatters all over the counter and the ceiling, it drives his wife nuts.
20. Helicopter Dad
Bateman is hugely protective of his two daughters, Franny and Maple. For a man who was a hugely successful child actor—but who really didn’t enjoy a childhood—it’s telling when Bateman says he’s “not a fan of kids acting.” Bateman also has an adult fantasy: He wants a siren to throw on his car hood and “scare bad drivers!”
21. Something’s Wrong
In 2001, Bateman took the biggest professional risk of his career. He starred in a sitcom called Some of My Best Friends, playing a deluded gay man whose roommate is a straight, macho Italian American guy. Although the show failed, Bateman proudly told The Advocate that he thought it was the best work he’d done to that point.
22. Character Development
Following years of personal turmoil and professional nonstarters, Bateman finally hit the big time again. 2003 saw the debut of Arrested Development, a quirky comedy that garnered a small, but crazy-loyal following. The show became an award-winning, critical darling too, and Bateman relished playing widowed dad Michael Bluth.
23. Best Funnymen Forever
Something sweetly funny came out of Jason Bateman’s biggest hit. Loopy Canadian actor Will Arnett plays his onscreen brother, and the two remain seriously funny BFFs. They trust each other so much that they formed a production company called—comically—DumbDumb. These two clowns love their lowbrow practical jokes. The paparazzi is a favorite target…
24. A Shocking Bromance
In 2013, New York paparazzi had a field day snapping Bateman and Arnett strolling through Greenwich Village…holding hands. They finally dropped the gag, pulling a “gotcha” at the photographers. Their social media accounts say it all. Bateman’s Twitter handle reads: “Friend of Will Arnett’s.” Arnett’s reads: “Jason Bateman’s sponsor.”
25. Stuck In The Middle With Him
In 2018, before AD’s fifth season, Bateman got embroiled in controversy. During a group cast interview with The New York Times, a touchy topic came up: Fellow castmate Jeffrey Tambor’s alleged misconduct while appearing on another show, Transparent. Tambor had apparently misbehaved on AD too, and Bateman’s opinions on it landed him in internet purgatory.
26. Skeleton In The Closet
Tambor had been fired from Transparent, but the AD cast and production crew were generally supportive of him. Tambor acknowledged that he was, on at least one occasion, verbally abusive towards the actress playing his wife on AD, Jessica Walter. Bateman thought he could explain that away…
27. Underdeveloped Viewpoint
Walter told the New York Times that, in almost 60 years of acting, she’d never had anybody yell at her like Tambor did on the set of AD. Bateman sounded dismissive, stating that Tambor’s intense bouts of anger were simply part of his “process.” Bateman also said that he considered Tambor one of his “favorite, most valued people.”
28. Bad Boys
The backlash from the New York Times interview was so serious, publicists quickly cancelled a planned UK press tour and replaced it with damage control. Bateman’s comments caused outrage. On social media, critics accused him of a sexist mentality. Bateman backpedaled hard.
29. Manning Up
Within hours of the Times article fallout, Bateman took to social media. He expressed how horrified, embarrassed, and insensitive he’d been regarding the whole incident. He publicly apologized to Jessica Walter and called it a “big learning moment” for him. Bateman’s main takeaway was: “There’s never any excuse for abuse…the victim’s voice needs to be heard and respected. Period.”
30. Feeding the Screen Hogs
Bateman navigated through the controversy with proper contrition, and he later revealed a “dirty little secret” regarding his success on AD. Many critics considered Bateman the second banana, acting with eccentric characters who took over every scene. One reporter asked Bateman how hard it was to act that way. Bateman finally spilled the tea.
31. Leading The Way
Jason Bateman admitted that the straight man character sustains the action on AD. In Bateman’s words, he’s like “the audience,” and most times, he “gets to be in every scene.” That gave him a greater involvement in managing the tone of the show, and more control over the quality of the filmed experience.
32. Thank You From The Bottom Of My Throat
In November 2005, Bateman’s publicist revealed that the actor had to have throat surgery. Thankfully, it was a benign polyp, and Bateman made a full recovery. He thanked the public for their concern, especially fans of AD. “Most people retire after 25 years in this business. I got to start over,” he said.
33. You Can’t Make This Spa Up
Need further proof that truth is stranger than fiction? Ask Jason Bateman. His 2016 visit to a Beverly Hills spa was supposed to be nothing more taxing than a movie star facial. But Bateman was in for an unpleasant surprise. He woke up later surrounded by paramedics, and spa employees praying in thanks that he was still alive.
After a few minutes in a daze, people finally started to fill him in about what had happened…
34. This Is Getting Weirder
As Bateman described during an interview with talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, his spa experience felt weird from the get-go. The employee directed him to remove all his clothing and spend 20 minutes in a hot tub as part of the cleansing regimen. Bateman said the temperature was beyond uncomfortable, and it started to affect him physically—but that was just the beginning.
35. If Beauty Is Pain This Is Deadly
Bateman told Kimmel that he trusted the spa employee, figuring the increasing discomfort he was feeling in the hot tub was some “no pain, no gain” grooming procedure. The pain didn’t let up as the employee scrubbed his skin raw, followed by a hose-down with cold water. Next, she announced it was time for his massage. That was the last thing he remembered.
36. Lights Out
While the spa employee headed for the massage room, thinking that Bateman was following her, he’d blacked out. When he woke up, a full complement of paramedics, all the spa’s employees surrounded him—with one small towel…discreetly draped over his lower half. Bateman was shocked to learn what almost happened.
37. Seven Minutes In Heaven
Bateman’s ‘spa incident’ made for a comical exchange with funnyman Jimmy Kimmel. It was serious, however, with potentially fatal consequences at the time. Bateman was apparently medically unresponsive for seven minutes, suffering from acute dehydration. When he felt well enough, Bateman went home…sans facial.
38. No One But Me To Blame
The movie Bad Words was Bateman’s feature film directorial debut. If that’s not stressful enough, he also cast himself in the lead role of a midlife nowhere-man who competes in a preteen spelling bee. Bateman’s had a simple philosophy: If the film tanked completely, there’d be nobody to blame for the failure but himself.
39. What’s The Word?
Bateman stressed one thing to a literary agent he’d started working with. While he’s grateful for his fresh start as an adult actor, he was “…acting to create the kind of relevance or capital necessary to get a directing job.” He told the agent not to wait for him to get a break from acting, just find him dark and vulnerable scripts to direct. Bad Words was that script.
40. Horrible Sequel
The surprise 2011 hit Horrible Bosses further cemented Bateman’s status as a bankable Hollywood actor—but he had horrible things to say about the sequel. Bateman’s opinion is that Horrible Bosses 2 was little more than box office “garbage.” Why exactly? He found the first movie fun, but many people probably saw it and figured they didn’t need to see more.
41. A Tired Piece Of Meat
Mitch Hurwitz isn’t familiar to everyone, but he rescued Bateman’s career. Hurwitz created AD at a time when Bateman called himself “a tired piece of meat.” Hurwitz has admitted that he was blasé when he saw Bateman’s name on the audition list. Bateman, however, nailed his comedically understated audition, and Hurwitz cast him as Michael Bluth.
42. Family Ties
Bateman’s role as Mark Loring, the supposed adoptive father in Juno, had tie-ins to both his professional and personal life. His longtime onscreen son, Michael Cera, plays the teenaged father in the film. And, before the movie shot in Vancouver, Canada—in only 30 days—Bateman and his wife had just welcomed their first child.
43. Cry On Command
Many actors consider shedding tears on cue to be an enviable talent. Bateman had to cry on camera once, and he did succeed. But he wrote it off as “cheating.” Just before he shot the scene, Bateman thumbed through his iPhone and found pictures of his kids. Bateman calls that a “good trick” to produce a tearful reaction.
44. The Wizard Of Ozark
Bateman is no stranger to starring in projects that he also directs, but the hit Netflix show Ozark is new territory for his character Marty Byrde, and the Byrde family, who land under the thumb of organized crime. The Ozark episodes that Bateman directed have been a triumph, and what happened at the 2019 Emmy Awards came as a triumphant surprise.
45. Only Game In Town
Ozark went into the 2019 Emmy Awards with a modest number of nominations, including a nod for Bateman in the Outstanding Directing category for his work on the episode “Reparations.” There was only one hiccup: In the directing category, he was up against multiple episodes of Game of Thrones. No-one expected Bateman to win. Until the unexpected happened.
46. There’s That Face Again
Bateman’s facial expressions have their own notoriety. Do a web search of ‘Jason Bateman face’ and you’ll see what I mean. He’s made a career of working his deadpan looks, and when he won the Outstanding Directing category at the 2019 Emmy Awards, he wore that same bemused look beautifully while everyone else in his camp freaked out with joy. How did the moment really feel?
47. Thanks, Dad
Many surprise winners at big Hollywood awards shows seem shocked—but Bateman’s brief acceptance speech at the Emmys seemed especially genuine. Afterward, he noted his father Kent’s influence. While other dads took their kids to ballparks, Kent shared his love of movies, and directing, with his son. Although Kent and Jason have had their fractured moments, Bateman’s gratitude was touching.
48. Totally Out Of Character
As if Ozark isn’t dark enough, Bateman surprised the entertainment world with his turn in a Stephen King screen thriller, The Outsider. Bateman’s character, Terry Maitland, is a small-town Georgia dad, unassuming in every way…until he’s implicated in a heinous crime against a young child. Bateman has been lauded for skillfully veering away from “regular guy” roles.
49. It’s Debunking Time
It ain’t easy being an A-list celeb. For every true story about Bateman’s generally happy personal life, there’s a truckload of tabloid fodder about his supposedly long-term, secret love affair with Jennifer Aniston. Some gossip sites have even taken it upon themselves to sift through the dirt fabricated to sell tabloids, hopefully laying rumors to rest…
50. Liars, Liars
Apparently, Aniston was leaning too much on Bateman following her split from second husband, Justin Theroux. Bateman’s wife was at her breaking point, having to deal with Aniston’s “late-night phone calls, endless texts, and overnight stays,” with Bateman. If you need perfect examples of fake news, that’s it.
Reality is, Aniston and Bateman’s wife, Amanda, are close friends too, hanging out and shopping together in both New York City and Los Angeles.