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The Transformation Of Jason Bateman From Childhood To Ozark

Jason Bateman has become a popular name in the entertainment industry since the mid-2000s. However, the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor, producer, and director has been in the industry for over 40 years. Now 53, Bateman has starred in many large studio features and television series with other big-name actors — including the likes of Will Smith in "Hancock," Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart in "Central Intelligence," and even Ryan Reynolds in the 2011 comedy "The Change-Up" (via IMDb).

Although Bateman may be known for mainly comedic and drama acting roles, he has continued to pursue directing and producing as well, even starting his own production company and partnering with Netflix (via Deadline). In fact, Bateman has directed 10 episodes of "Ozark," the drama series that just released its final season and stars Bateman as the financial advisor for a Mexican drug cartel. He is also known for his directing work for an episode of "Arrested Development," the comedy sitcom which he also stars in about a formerly wealthy family dealing with financial struggles and expensive lifestyles.

Even though "Ozark" is his most involved project to date, Bateman has always served excellently in comedies throughout the years, often playing the straight man who tries to keep everything under control, always reasoning and looking for the best possible solution. However, his turn to drama in recent years has shown Bateman's gifted range that many critics respect (via The Ringer). Here's the transformation Bateman went through to get from child acting to "Ozark."

Bateman got his start in Little House on the Prairie

Coming from an entertainment family, Bateman grew up around his father Kent Bateman, who is a film producer, and his older sister Justine, who began acting in the '80s as well (via Biography.com). Because of this, Bateman started working in the industry when he was only 10 years old, with Variety noting back in 1979 that he signed with an agent. Not too long after, Bateman began booking commercials consistently until he broke through, landing the part of James Cooper Ingalls in the iconic television series, "Little House on the Prairie." Bateman stayed with that show from 1981 to 1982, being featured in over 20 episodes. This is quite a long stretch for any recurring character in a television series, both nowadays and back in the 1980s.

Bateman would then quickly pivot to another popular '80s sitcom with "Silver Spoons," which he would be a part of from 1982 to 1984 as Derek Taylor, the military boarding school bad boy who gets the main character, Ricky Stratton (Ricky Schroder), into sticky situations. For the rest of the 1980s, Bateman mostly had guest spots in TV series and TV movies, at least until he landed the role of David Hogan in "Valerie," a part he would play for 110 episodes until 1991. It would also be a shame to forget about Bateman's first starring role in a feature film — 1987's "Teen Wolf Too," in which he plays teenager Todd Howard, a relative of Michael J. Fox's Scott Howard, who finds himself dealing with normal teenager issues while also turning into a werewolf.

He had an unstable run in the '90s until Arrested Development and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

Throughout the rest of the late '80s and through nearly all of the '90s, aside from some feature film roles in "Breaking the Rules" and "Necessary Roughness," Bateman mostly stuck to '90s sitcoms with "Simon," "Chicago Sons," and "George & Leo." All three of these shows didn't last very long and ended up getting canceled after six months to one year of shooting. Fortunately for Bateman, he was still finishing up "Valerie" in the early '90s, and although some of the failed runs were starting to catch up with him, he was still landing parts into the early 2000s. Bateman had supporting roles in "The Sweetest Thing" starring Cameron Diaz and 2004's "Starsky & Hutch" starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. Although these weren't bad roles by any means, nothing quite stood out for Bateman again until his iconic characters in "Arrested Development" and "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story."

"Arrested Development" won Bateman his first Golden Globe in 2005 (via IMDb), and his role as Michael Bluth lasted for 16 years. "Dodgeball" has become a comedy fan-favorite over the years and it's no surprise as to why, with a cast that features Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor, Justin Long, Stephen Root, Alan Tudyk, and many more major names. Bateman's role is that of ESPN 8 "The Ocho" announcer Pepper Brooks, who works alongside Gary Cole's Cotton McKnight as a commentator for the championship at the end of the film. Bateman's Brooks is a wildcard character who has silly and hilarious comments about the game. Many fans responded well to the film, and it led to more opportunities for Bateman.

After a brief stint in voice acting, Bateman did plenty of film roles

During 2005, alongside "Arrested Development," Bateman began getting into the voice booth instead of in front of the camera, doing some brief animated voice acting roles for multiple shows — including "King of the Hill," "Fairly OddParents," and "Justice League Unlimited." All three of these animated series are well-known in their own right, with "King of the Hill" running from 1997 to 2010, and "Fairly OddParents" from 2001 to 2017 (via IMDb). After that, from 2006 through 2009, it was film role, after film role, after film role.

He likely became a great option for studios as an excellent supporting character, whether that was in "Up in the Air" alongside George Clooney, "Juno," "The Promotion," "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Tropic Thunder," or "The Invention of Lying," just to name a few. All of these roles are comedic, of course, as Bateman's entire career until this point was based around comedic sitcoms. It's entirely possible most casting directors would choose him for comedic parts in features because of these successful past performances.

He flourished after Horrible Bosses and Horrible Bosses 2

In 2011, Bateman would star alongside two other comedy powerhouse actors in "Ted Lasso" star Jason Sudeikis and "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" regular Charlie Day with "Horrible Bosses." It was a massive success at the box office, grossing over $209 million on a $35 million budget (via Box Office Mojo) — talk about a profitable turnout. This naturally incited the sequel, "Horrible Bosses 2," to be greenlit, and after premiering in 2014 with nearly all of the original cast returning, it would go on to make $107 million on a $42 million budget. Both films served as a great place for Bateman to move from, as he soon landed a supporting part in "Central Intelligence" and a starring role in "Office Christmas Party." He also served as the lead voice of Nick Wilde in the Disney movie "Zootopia" in 2016. 

Bateman would eventually land another starring role one year after starting "Ozark" with 2018's "Game Night," featuring the likes of Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Jesse Plemons, Michael C. Hall, and Danny Huston. It was a critical and audience success, likely making fans even more aware of the actor's role in "Ozark," despite the fact that it differed from the typical comedic roles that they were used to seeing Bateman in before. However, "Ozark" wasn't truly the first dramatic role Bateman had.

Bateman had a starring dramatic role in Disconnect before Ozark

Before "Ozark," many fans may have forgotten that Bateman did star in a feature drama back in 2012 with "Disconnect." The movie follows multiple separate stories of people interacting with the social media craze of modern society and the negative effects that it has on them, ultimately disconnecting them from loved ones and authentic relationships. 

Bateman plays Rich Boyd, the father of Ben Boyd (Jonah Bobo), who has to deal with the tragedy of losing his son after he is cyberbullied. It had to be an incredibly emotional experience for Bateman playing a grieving father, but he gave a stellar performance. Some critics noted the sensitive performances from the entire cast, but especially Bateman with his first completely dramatic role (via Rotten Tomatoes).

After "Ozark," which is now in its fourth and final season, it will be interesting to see which direction Bateman goes next, as he has proven himself apt for both drama and comedy parts. At the same time, Bateman recently started exploring other roles in the entertainment industry as well, including directing and producing, which he's found great success in. Bateman won his first Emmy for directing a Season 2 episode of "Ozark" (via IMDb). No matter what he decides to do, we'll be waiting on the edge of our seats for Jason Bateman's next project.