While most Hollywood child stars are begging for a spot on Big Brother by the time they hit 30, Jason Bateman seems remarkably sane for a man who grew up in the spotlight.
After early appearances in Little House On The Prairie and Knight Rider, the 18-year-old Bateman briefly found fame by stepping into Michael J Fox’s fur-filled shoes in 1987’s Teen Wolf Too. As an adult, he’s won over audiences in offbeat sitcom Arrested Development and re-conquered the big screen with Horrible Bosses. His latest film, The Change-Up, sees the 42-year-old swap lives (and bodies) with Ryan Reynolds. Something most of us would find extremely difficult to turn down.
What would you do if you really became Ryan Reynolds?
I’d probably enjoy riding his motorcycles. No, I would just go around listening to all the wonderful things people say about him. As perfect as he seems, he’s actually very human. And he’s the one Canadian I know who doesn’t have a native accent — not even on his ‘O’s.
The film gave you the chance to play a ladies’ man — how much personal experience did you draw on for that?
[Laughs] That was never really my thing, but I certainly had enough friends who were running at that speed. The dumb-guy-who-likes-to-party-a-lot was definitely a part of me, and it was nice to dust him off for this movie because I’m usually the guy who’s reacting to a character like that.
So you’re tired of being cast as the straight guy?
In a simple, grass-is-always-greener way, it’d be nice to try more diverse parts. But I don’t ever want to stop playing the straight man because it’s such an important element in making comedy work. You need that person who represents the audience, otherwise comedy can seem very silly and even arbitrary.
Any news on the Arrested Development film?
We’re getting closer and closer. It seems like we will be doing it, though. I haven’t seen a script yet, but I talk to Mitch Hurwitz [Arrested Development’s creator] every once in a while about the progress he’s making on it, and I still see the cast regularly.
You’ve been vocal in your support of the Democratic party — do you think any of the Republican nominees pose a threat to Obama?
It’d be foolish to underestimate the appeal of the Republican party in America. Who would have thought George W Bush could get elected and then re-elected? Having said that, I can’t imagine anybody being more appealing than Obama.
Did your English mum expose you to British comedy?
Absolutely. That dry, sarcastic sense of humour makes me laugh the most. My favourite is The Office. That was something that Will Arnett and I watched a lot while we were filming Arrested Development. I guess we were hoping that something would rub off.
Ricky Gervais claimed he was asked to host the Oscars — how would he have done?
I’d watch him host anything. Everything he says makes me laugh, so it doesn’t matter what he’s hosting — I’ll watch.
He once spent the whole day pretending to mistake you for your fellow Teen Wolf franchise star, Michael J Fox. When that happens, do you give as good as you get?
[Laughs] Yes and no. I mean, if I could think of something as funny as the things he says, I’d give it back to him. But he’s much funnier than I am. And, you know, the Teen Wolf jokes never get old. I never get sick of that.
We read you once got your own back by mooning him...
That might be true. Yeah, that sounds about right.
The Change-Up is at cinemas now
(Image: Rex Features)