Jason Bateman is a very busy man.
In the next year-plus, the actor will star in not one but two anticipated Netflix series. First is Ozark, a violent neo-noir hitting the streaming service July 21.
Bateman plays Marty Byrde, a family man (and money launderer) who’s forced to move his clan from Chicago to a remote resort town in the Missouri Ozarks when he runs afoul of a Mexican drug cartel. There, he’s tasked with setting up a new money-laundering operation by investing in local businesses—but soon discovers that rural life can be just as dangerous as the big city.
The impressive 10-episode show, created by Bill Dubuque, features Bateman and Laura Linney, with Bateman also serving as executive producer and directing five episodes. (We’ll explore Ozark more in a longer feature.)
And then there’s Arrested Development.
“I have no idea what’s ahead,” Bateman tells The Daily Beast of the screwball comedy series’ upcoming season. “We start shooting in two weeks and I keep checking my phone for the first script, but it’s going to be amazing hanging out on the set again with that cast and that crew. I can’t wait.”
Arrested has never shied away from political satire. The Bluth family was inspired by the Bushes, and George Clooney almost turned in a Season 4 cameo as a Mexican relative of Mitt Romney’s. According to Bateman, the fifth season of the show will take on the chaotic presidential administration of Donald J. Trump and the alarming parallels between the Trumps and the Bluths.
“None of that is lost on [creator] Mitch Hurwitz. He’s aware of all of that stuff,” says Bateman. “And he and his writing staff have been in a cave for the last two or three months crafting these episodes, and they’re going to lean into a lot of that [Trump] stuff for sure. They can’t wait.”
The Daily Beast’s own Erin Gloria Ryan recently wrote a piece about how Hurwitz’s landmark series—centering on a buffoonish, obscenely wealthy real-estate family embroiled in shady deals with foreign dictators (as well as a scheme to profit off building a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico)—eerily predicted the Trump White House.
“It was a little bit more about Bush,” offers a chuckling Bateman. “But my god… the fuckin’ wall between Mexico and the U.S.?”
I tell him about the parallels the internet has drawn between Gob Bluth, the idiotic eldest son of the Bluth family, and Donald Trump Jr., who’s currently under fire for a meeting he took during the election with a Kremlin-linked attorney, an accused Russian money launderer, and a Russian man implicated in an international hacking conspiracy.
Bateman hasn’t seen the comparisons yet. “Really? They’re calling Don Jr. Gob?” he asks, laughing hysterically. “That’s so funny. Wait… does that make me Eric?”
The fourth season of Arrested Development, which premiered on Netflix on May 26, 2013, received mixed reviews—with some chalking up its lack of cohesion to the fact that actors were green-screened into scenes due to scheduling issues. But Bateman assures me that won’t be an issue for Season 5.
“We’re all together. We don’t have the same limitations that we had on us back then,” he says. “There were series exclusivities back then. Tony [Hale] for one, on Veep, couldn’t be on two shows at the same time. Also, Mitch [Hurwitz] thought it would be interesting to utilize the interface of Netflix at that time, where you could drop all the episodes at once like an album, and with all the action being simultaneous, you could click out of one guy’s episode and start another one and see a different perspective on the same scene. Editorially, I think that proved to be a little bit more of a challenge than he anticipated, and I think as a consequence it ended up having some more complications and wrinkles in it than maybe he intended. But this time, we’ll all be together and it won’t be like nine spin-offs.”
As for the potential five-year gap between Seasons 4 and 5, well, the star says it’s just the nature of the biz.
“The business elements were the real hold-up,” says Bateman. “I would’ve carved out time to do this every year since we were canceled. I love it. But there were business hurdles with something like this. Because the show was so successful for each of us within the community, we all had these great opportunities. Not to get too in the weeds, but everyone’s quotes went up and you can’t afford to pay everyone’s quotes for every episode, so then if you ask them to take a reduction then they’re not available to make full freight on another job where they’re not being asked to take a reduction. It’s complicated. People have families, want to play other parts. A lot of us have had a lot of great opportunities after that, and I’m glad we’ve all had a chance to do a lot of that stuff. And now the timing has worked perfectly for us to get together again.”