Jason Bateman Talks About Directing 'The Family Fang'

Jason Bateman is directing and starring in the new comedy-drama

May 6, 2016, 12:10 PM

— -- Jason Bateman is both directing and starring in the new comedy-drama “The Family Fang.” It is Bateman’s second big-screen directorial project after his hit comedy film “Bad Words,” which was released in 2013.

This time heavy-hitters Nicole Kidman, Christopher Walken and Maryann Plunkett join Bateman on screen for his newest comedy. The film is about a brother and sister searching for their parents, known for elaborate hoaxes, who have mysteriously disappeared.

“I’m attracted to things that are not overtly comedic or are obviously dramatic,” Bateman told ABC News. “So that we can bounce from comedy to drama easily because they’re both kind of close to the middle. Whereas I’m doing a film right now as an actor that is just a straight up studio comedy, along the lines of a ‘Horrible Bosses’ or things of that nature, and so I get those things in the marketplace.

“And I love doing those. But those aren’t the things that challenge me as much as a director, as those things that occupy kind of an equal space in comedy and drama and therefore characters need to be somewhat more raw and vulnerable because that’s really who we all are,” Bateman added.

Bateman’s own life may have inspired some ideas for the film. He and his sister, actress Justine Bateman, grew up in the TV and movie-making businesses.

“There are certain parallels in this film from my upbringing. Our parents were our managers,” Bateman told Peter Travers. “There was a complication there, some confusing elements that took some managing. But we figured it out. And I think eventually Nicole [Kidman] and my character in this film, we figure it out. We just figure it out a lot later.”

PHOTO: Jason Bateman and Peter Travers at the ABC Headquarters in New York, April 15, 2016.
Jason Bateman and Peter Travers at the ABC Headquarters in New York, April 15, 2016.
David H. Miller/ABC News

“The Family Fang” comes on the heels of the wild success of Bateman’s recent role voicing the animated character, Nick Wilde, a sly fox in Disney’s “Zootopia.”

“It was such a privilege to be a part of one of their [Walt Disney Pictures] projects,” Bateman said. “It takes a long, long time. Three years I think I was on it. And their process of making these things, it’s so not precious. They really take their time and they constantly share it with their story trusts. They bring everybody in and I think they kind of cross pollenate with their sister company Pixar and Disney animation.

“They all sit together and they just kind of are honest about what they think works and what doesn’t. And since they don’t’ have to reshoot anything, they’re very malleable with what they’re able to do with the film. And, consequently, I didn’t know what it was about until I saw it at the premiere. I had a notion but they change so much and react so respectfully to the notes from their colleagues that it changes on a dime, often.”

Disney is the parent company of ABC News. “The Family Fang” is in theaters now.

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