“Every single one of ‘em was from an Arrested fan”: Jason Bateman’s “Good Guy” Star Image

Curator's Note

The quote in the first half of the title of this piece refers to Jason Bateman’s explanation on Inside the Actor’s Studio for why he was hired to star in a number of films since the end of Arrested Development’s original run in 2006. Arrested Development is a cult hit and critical darling, yet the show never garnered the audience for Fox to keep it on the air past its three seasons. Nonetheless, Bateman has achieved A-list (or at least near A-list) status since the show’s original run after years of lesser roles.

As Bateman’s quote points out, there is undeniable fandom associated with Arrested Development amongst producers and filmmakers which explains why Bateman is now a film star. Bateman has been able to succeed in film because of his role as Michael Bluth. Essentially, Bateman plays an extension of Bluth in most of his films where he often portrays the “good guy” who gets caught up in a less than ideal situation. He is generally the person the audience roots for to succeed. Anyone who has seen or read Bateman’s interviews would acknowledge that he comes off as a genuine “good guy” off-screen as well.

While Bateman has not always played the absolute “good guy” in all of his work, he has maintained an aura of likable qualities throughout his career. For example, his endearing bad boy role on Silver Spoons (1982-1984) led to a short lived star vehicle as a charming young scam artist on It’s Your Move (1984-1985). He epitomized the jerk-like, but caring, older brother on The Hogan Family (1986-1991). As 1980s sitcoms, these shows inevitably only went so far in showing unscrupulous behavior, and Bateman’s characters never did anything truly despicable. He was sweet-natured under a disagreeable facade.

As Arrested Development is resurrected on Netflix and possibly the big screen, we will no longer be watching Bateman as the former 1980s television child/teenage actor but as a full-fledged film star. Once upon a time, television was commonly seen as a medium where film stars would go to continue acting when the film roles dried up. Today, stardom transfers from film to television and vice versa more seamlessly. Often we find consistency in star images and on and off-screen personas within diverse roles and across different media. In fact, we’ve essentially been watching Michael Bluth on the big screen for the last ten years.

Comments

Baerbel Goebel Stolz's picture

Actors moving between the worlds...

I agree that we see actors moving between film and television work more often and without much surprise on the viewer’s side it seems. This, many would say, has to do with the shift both in quality of television narratives, which lend themselves to better developed characters and thus more interesting parts for the actors, and a shift in perception by the audience. The latter referring to critics and viewers alike beginning to value a decent amount of programming as high in quality and visual appeal. The realm within which these actors move from big to small screen is limited however, I feel. A few cult shows bring in big names, mostly in guest appearances, but big drama seems to be the place where film actors find a place on TV rather than comedy over all. Do you maybe have some comedy examples of actors moving to the small screen besides Chase?

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