Ozark is back for another season and that’s not Jason Bateman’s only Netflix hit. The streaming giant also signed him to a long-term producing deal, and they’ve still got half a season of Arrested Development to air. So, Bateman had a lot to talk about when Netflix presented an Ozark season 2 panel for the TCA.
The Byrde family still has a lot of fallout to deal with since Martin (Bateman) got in business with the drug cartels. Season two promises a lot more twists and turns, which Bateman spoke about with reporters. Ozark returns August 31, 2018 on Netflix.
What was your reaction to your two Emmy nominations, acting and directing?
Jason Bateman: “It was obviously a really, really fun and emotional morning. This is a project that I care deeply, deeply about and am obviously completely immersed in. For this show to A, have received an audience and B, get the kind of embrace from those voters and a lot of you guys, I’m not sure what the right term is but it’s the less earnest version of warming and humbling. It felt great, very encouraging and it’s a nod for everybody on that show. Obviously, this isn’t tennis. It’s not painting. It is a team effort and if any one of them were not doing a great job, we will just clank it.”
What does an Emmy win mean for you?
Jason Bateman: “Believe me, I am not anticipating a win whatsoever. I think we were probably right at the border of even getting any nominations so I’m happy with that. That we’re involved with that night is going to be a real special evening. I can’t imagine what that calculus is with any sort of wins.
I would hope that nominations do whatever benefit a win might just by giving the show that little extra boost for curiosity. That whoever hasn’t watched it might now try to. I think at the end of the day, that’s really all you should look for in these awards shows for a competition between shows, performances that are not the same. We’re not saying what are the five different versions of that character? It’s not really a true competition in that sense. Hopefully it’s just a nice promotional push for us and a few other people check out the show. That’s all I can really hope for.”
Why did you want to make the producing deal, what were some of the other options in front of you and what are the expectations?
Jason Bateman: “Well, I’ll give you the short answer. The long one would be boring. I’ve always admired what Ron Howard and Brian Grazer did with Imagine, and specifically what Ron did with his acting career, and as he started to absorb how the sausage is made, wanting to have that chair, and that privilege, that honor of overseeing the complexities of making fake life. It’s kind of sneaky tough. It’s a really interesting thing to do. And then from a producorial standpoint, he did that as well inside that company, along with Brian, and going into comedy and drama, and television and film, and small and big. And, you know, currently Netflix covers all that and then some, and they also happen to be run by a group of people that I’m just personally really fond of, and they could not be more kind of supportive. And the whole culture there is the same. And they were open to supporting that dream of mine, and it makes sense since I’m kind of already there doing these other things.
And I just couldn’t be more grateful that they let me come over there and do that. And so, I’m not sure what the output is going to be like, what the frequency is going to be, but it won’t be for lack of effort. I like to work really hard, and I’m at the office every day, here in town, working on television, film, documentary, you name it, to bring to them, and to execute.”
What’s the long answer?
Jason Bateman: “I mean, look, I hope it’s because they like whatever the hell it is that they think I do well and they would love to have a literal first look at that. That’s what the deal is. For that I get to pay some people that are very, very qualified and in some cases overqualified partners that work along with me can cook stuff up and bring to them and ask them if they would like to eat that, or should we take it back to the kitchen? It’s a wonderful partnership because they’ve got great taste and the reputation and support and creative effort is fully well earned. So far it’s been an absolute dream both in Arrested and Ozark and the nascent stages of this development effort. I hope to be there for a very long time.”
Does Netflix share any viewership data with you as a producer?
Jason Bateman: “I make a point not to ask because they are, again, their level of support might lead me to believe that they would tell me things that I just don’t think I want to know because I so appreciate and respect that dynamic of their business where they’re not obligated to do that. They don’t need to address ratings for ad dollars. I get it.
So, there are things that affect our creative process that are helpful. I can’t remember whether I asked or they shared what time of day or night our show is usually watched. Is it watched on a television screen versus an iPad or an iPhone? These things, I take into the editing room, to the DI, to the sound mix because it’s important to know if you need to factor in ambient light. If your show’s being watched during the day, you’re going to set different brightness levels and contrast levels. If it’s on an iPhone that’s in stereo, you might not grind so hard in the sound mix for this multi-channel balance. These things are important given our venue.”
What would we learn about law and order in the Missouri Ozarks and money laundering from Ozark?
Jason Bateman: “Well, the money laundering part of the show, and I’d be happy to hear your thoughts on this, is hopefully tamped down and doesn’t bore you with the weeds and sort of the mechanics of all that stuff. What do you learn about law and order in the Ozarks? I mean, I don’t know. We’re not trying to make an accurate documentary about what the crime rate is there like at the Ozarks. It just happens to be the place where Bill Dubuque wanted to have this thing set.
This is a man who went there a lot when he was a kid, knew that it had a very colorful history and lent itself to some of the kinds of characters that he would want to write about and have those characters interface with some big city folks. And these big city folks wrongfully assuming that they could dominate them, and that they had them all figured out. So, there’s sort of a culture clash there and, you know, an economic crash there. And how does that all roll out, I think, is more of what the show is about, I hope.”
What is chemistry and what do you do if you don’t have it?
Jason Bateman: “If you like somebody, chemistry just kind of happens. You know, it’s really not something you can be deliberate about. If you don’t have good chemistry with someone, i.e., you don’t like them, there is another level of work and effort you kind of either have to be conscious of or you’re subconsciously aware that I really have to yell at this person in this scene, but I don’t want to do it too much because they know and I know we don’t like each other. And, so, you kind of have to semi-apologize for that.
It’s like we all get along so well that we really dig in and love those dramatic moments because we know no one’s going to take offense, because you’re trying to be really believable. You’re trying to really, not scare that person, but you’re giving them the best faces you’ve got. And if you can trust that they know that you get along then it’s like you can take the gloves off, and it becomes a really fun kind of acting.”
To what do you attribute the popularity and success of season one and how does Ozark feel different from other TV experiences you’ve had?
Jason Bateman: “I would hope that the reason that people are finding it, those that have and those that do like it, are because A) not to sound like a company man, but Netflix is incredible at letting people know what’s happening, what’s on, and where you can find it and at what point, and you hope that you do good work and you’re with a partner that can get you that initial sampling. And then, hopefully, you’ve got the goods where people keep coming back. So, that’s one. And hopefully, the fact they’re coming back is because they’re recognizing all the good work that everybody, top to bottom, side-to-side, is doing on the show because these kinds of shows, if they work, I think it works because of the contributions from multiple departments as opposed to, ‘Oh, they do explosions really well,’ or ‘They do jokes really well,’ or ‘They do this really well.’
We don’t really have a lot of bells-and-whistles on this show by design, and so it is kind of a cocktail. So, I feel really fortunate to be a part of a group as talented as we’ve got.”
What’s your sense of whether there’ll be another Arrested Development season?
Jason Bateman: “Well, I know that there’s the backend of this season that’s yet to come on at the end of the year.”
So they’d wait until after those air to decide?
Jason Bateman: “I would imagine so. If I’m the person writing the checks on things, you wait to see if anyone’s watching and then that informs your decision.”