Today Jason Bateman turned out to be a double threat Emmy nominee for his Netflix/Media Rights Capital noir series Ozark, not just earning a nomination for lead actor in a drama series, but also for directing as well.
While Bateman has continually been lauded for his comedy acting chops throughout the years, largely for Arrested Development (TBD on whether the comedy series will season 6; the series season 5 received zero love from Emmy voters), it’s arguably the first time that he’s been recognized in the directing arena, and he’s been exercising that creative muscle for quite some time not just with indie features such as The Family Fang and Bad Words, but going as far back to the late ’80s when he directed episodes for NBC’s Valerie, a sitcom on which he also starred.
Though Ozark has provided Bateman the opportunity to delve his straight-man persona into a darker waters (he plays a financial planner who deals with the drug-dealing fringe of society), he tells Deadline this morning, “originally what attracted me to do this was directing most of the episodes. It was more of a directing play than acting.” Bateman was recognized by TV Academy voters for directing the season 1 finale “The Toll”.
During season 2 of Ozark, which drops on Aug. 31, Bateman directs the first two episodes. Having recently signed a mulit-year film and TV deal with Netflix, Bateman says “I miss a lot of the blockbuster adult dramas of the ’70s and ’80s that I grew up watching” like Ozark and “I look forward to bringing some of those projects to Netflix”. In addition, what intrigues the Horribles Bosses and Identity Thief star nowadays is telling a story in a 600-page narrative versus the standard 120. Visually as a director, he’s inspired by such series as Top of the Lake but also David Fincher as well, especially “his visual and sound palette that helps creates an environment for the audience where dark and challenging material is appropriate”.
In season 2 of Ozark, Bateman’s patriarch Marty Byrde and family continue to navigate the troubled money-laundering and drug cartel waters of the summer resort where they’ve nested in the Missouri Ozarks. With drug lord Del (Esai Morales) out, the crime syndicate sends its ruthless attorney Helen Pierce (Janet McTeer) after them. Marty and wife Wendy (Laura Linney) struggle to balance their family interests amid the escalating dangers presented by their partnerships with the power-hungry Snells, the cartel and their new deputy, Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner), whose father Cade (Trevor Long) has been released from prison.
“The first episode (of season 2) picks up right on the same night as the 10th episode, so it runs pretty continuous,” says Bateman, “Everything is ramped up a bit as you would see in a sequel.”
“The writers do a great job of going the extra lengths,” says the now four-time Emmy nominee, “because of the division in the culture right now, they keep raising the stakes of the characters, and mine just keeps digging. He should put the shovel down, but he keeps getting into things that warrant extreme measures.”