SXSW 2014 Interview: Some BAD WORDS, but Mostly Stellar Talent - ScreenAnarchy Talks To Jason Bateman and Kathryn Hahn
"How about that bitch Kathryn Hahn?" said Jason Bateman as he walked into the second half of our 10-journalist-thick Bad Words roundtable at the Four Seasons on Saturday morning. "This is going to go a lot better than her interview, don't worry."
Prior to Bateman's dry sense of humor permeating the room, the insanely talented, Yale-graduated, exaggerated face-making (see IMBD.com) Kathryn Hahn sat down with us to express her adoration of Bateman and her crush on his wife, actress Amanda Anka.
"I knew when the script was sent to me that whatever [Bateman] decided he was going to do as his first time out as a feature director was going to be something special," she said. "I've always trusted his taste. As an audience member I've always checked in with 'Jason Bateman on screen' because I know that I trust his point of view."
She apologized for her use of cliché, but had to gush that working on the film "was a ball" because of how everyone could just tell that Bateman was having the time of his life.
"He'd done so much prep work so that he armed himself really well for the quick and tight schedule we had," she continued. "By the time we started shooting, he was so calm and comfortable."
Writer Andrew Dodge - whom Bateman had immense praise for - and he went through the script for about a year with a fine-toothed comb. Once Bateman and the team decided he was to play the lead, they went back through it and made sure consistencies were there for Bateman to play Guy Trilby - a man who's clearly held on to some hurt for a very long time and is now on a revenge hunt via a spelling bee.
As the title suggests, there are a lot of bad words in this film. Not just bad words either - bad, racist, sexist, ageist (and most any other -ist you can think) insults hurled back and forth between Guy, the reporter (Hahn) attempting to profile a story on the man that found a loophole to play as an adult in the National Spelling Bee, and Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand), Guy's 10-year-old best friend-slash-nemesis.
"I asked them to trust me that I was going to build a film and an aesthetic that wouldn't feel gratuitous or arbitrary to the audience," said Bateman in regard to the multiple insults and swears. "This was a drama to everyone inside the movie. Guy gets his feelings hurt and is not properly equipped to deal with that. [The] audience, laughs at his inability to manage his life, but it is a drama to [the people in the story].
I hope that's the spine of the movie that makes those prickly scenes feel a little less sharp."
Hahn definitely doesn't agree with the adage 'The classier the woman, the less they curse.'
"I like a broad!" she said. "I love a good swear word. But I have the two peanuts at home so I do have to edit myself of course."
When asked if she had a favorite one, she responded: "Child? I do and I'll tell you why... [the room erupted in laughter]. No, I love a simple 'Fuck.' I grew up in Ohio and my parents did a lot of, 'Oh, poop on a stick!' and 'Shut the front door!' which you almost wish they would've just let it fly. It would have been a little less embarrassing."
Bateman credited Arrested Development as his father and mother of the second half of his career and admitted that he would have taken a job that was half as good and that might have stayed on the air twice as long, but that he was fortunate enough to be given that show "by those who hand out jobs in Los Angeles."
"Respect and quality is the fuel of longevity as opposed to fame and fortune," he imparted some wisdom. "Arrested Development gave me a great deal of much-needed credibility and a reset button on stuff I did in the past. And I'm just trying to not screw it up."
As to the pair's spelling bee experiences - Bateman was in one in grade school and lost in the first round when he forgot the 'w' in 'Answer.' And Hahn never did an actual spelling bee, but took Latin in high school.
"I thought I had a leg up with root words, but I'm still terrible at spelling. The only word from the movie that I knew on my own was 'nougat.'"