Stopping by to mull the ups and downs of bossing people around in the Mike Judge workplace comedy Extract, Jason Bateman also weighed in on getting thin for a role, and playing perplexed up on the screen when running a plant is more like overseeing an insane asylum. We also the talked tattoos, the psychology of hair, misunderstanding Extract‘s testicle humor, and actually the relief of playing second fiddle to Vince Vaughn in his upcoming movie, Couples Retreat.
I heard that the tattoo on your neck in Dodgeball was your idea. So what personal touch did you add to Extract?
JASON BATEMAN: Some flair? I don’t think so. I think I wanted to make sure that his hair was short, and sort of workplace kind of blue collar. Mitch Hurwitz actually, the Arrested Development creator, he sort of clued me in on that. You know, at times, I wouldn’t get a haircut during Arrested Development. And he’d say, “Let’s get the hair cut!” And I was like, wow, what difference does it make to you?
So he says, “The longer a guy’s hair is, the more it sort of looks like he can deal with stuff, kind of laid back.” It’s like ooh, I get it, all right. So that’s about it. But I’m reaching to even come up with that one!
And I thought I would fit this part in the movie quite easily, this sort of straight man. Like this conservative guy in the middle of a bunch of craziness. And Mike went for it.
What is it like working with Mike?
JB: He’s very, very easy, it’s very effortless. He writes a great script, and then he casts people that do exactly what he’s written these characters to do.
So I think it’s probably just indicative of…how lazy he is! He doesn’t like to work very hard on the set. He likes to sort of just watch TV, and say yes and no! Or cut and action.
How about getting to be a leading man?
JB: Well, I’ve gotten this thin with Jennifer Aniston next year, so that’s a lead! But this Couples Retreat thing, you know, I’m safely at number two. Underneath Vince! He can carry it. I’m fine with that. But I’m not looking to be the star of a movie just to be the star of a movie.
Did you know the pot scene was going to be a trailer moment?
JB: When we were doing it, no. Not at all. You never really do. But you never know what marketing is going to come up with. They’re sort of their own little fiefdom over there. It’s certainly funny. But I don’t know honestly if it’s setting the table properly for what you expect from the movie.
And I personally feel that the teaser, which is what’s out there, isn’t even a trailer for this film. It’s a teaser that everybody’s been looking at. You know, a guy gets his ball sack blown off, and I take a big bong hit.
But I hope the audience doesn’t go into it thinking that it’s going to be a movie full of those kinds of moments. Because if that’s what they’re expecting, they’re going to walk away from the film and give it what I think would be a false negative.
You know, thinking that, well, the movie didn’t live up to that. So if it were me, I would’ve cut a different trailer. Or actually cut a trailer and set the groundwork for people to be in the right mood, the right gear for this brand of humor. Which is a bit more subtle than what the teaser indicates.
Who do you fanboy over?
JB: Ricky Gervais, Sacha Baron Cohen, Will Ferrell, The Coen Brothers. I like things that are a little left of center. I don’t know, I think stuff that is very down the middle and goes down easily is essential to keep our industry alive.
But I would love to support those that are sort of trying to widen that a little bit. Because I think that’s indicative of the audience. The audience is ready for stuff that kind of turns things a little, and bends stuff a little bit more than they’re used to.
Do you ever swipe souvenirs from your sets?
JB: I’ve started to with the movies lately. There’s usually one little thing that I’ll grab, and I keep them on my desk. So there’s a bunch of weird stuff there.
Now you’re thinking, well what the hell is that stuff? But nothing from Silver Spoons. Actually though, I lied. I have a lock of Ricky’s golden hair. Just one little curl!