For actor Jason Bateman in his directorial debut "Bad Words,"
the spelling bee is the stage for a middle-aged man with a
meticulous plan for revenge by exploiting a loophole in the
"No one needs to see another spelling bee movie, that was a
repellent to me when I read the script," Bateman said.
"Bad Words," in limited theaters on Friday and nationwide on
March 28, stars Bateman as Guy Trilby, whose revenge motivations
are painstakingly uncovered by a hassled journalist, played by
Kathryn Hahn, as he progresses through tournaments and befriends
an adorable 10-year-old contestant.
For the child actor portraying Guy's new friend, Chaitanya
Chopra, Bateman wanted "a kid who had an undeniable sunshine and
light and ease and lack of fear, something that would perfectly
counterbalance all the cynicism and darkness" of Guy.
He chose Rohan Chand, an Indian-American from New York City who
was 8 at the time of filming and had appeared in high-profile
projects such as Showtime's "Homeland" TV series and last year's
"Lone Survivor" film.
In "Bad Words," Rohan spends much of his screen time innocently
ignoring Guy's foul mouth and sometimes racist insults, brings
out Guy's inner soft side and accompanies him on a raucous night
involving booze, pranks and a prostitute named Marzipan.
At the film's Los Angeles premiere, Rohan, accompanied by his
parents, said his favorite part was a scene involving dropping a
lobster into a toilet and watching an unsuspecting man get
nipped in the nether regions.
"The innate quality he just has as a little guy, and that's what
everybody really enjoys about him in the film, he's just so
fresh and lovable," Bateman said of his co-star.
FROM THE PRAIRIE TO "BAD WORDS"
Bateman, 45, has been acting since the age of 10, when he was
cast as James Cooper Ingalls in the TV series "Little House on
the Prairie," an experience that he said influenced the way he
incorporated the child actors in "Bad Words."
"Michael Landon was a director of a lot of those episodes as
well as an actor in all those scenes with me, so that's where I
learned a lot of how I treated Rohan on the set," he said.
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Bateman said he waited until now to make his directorial debut,
drawing on his years of experience in front of the camera to
find funding for the film. "Bad Words," made for under $10
million, is distributed by Focus Features, a division of Comcast
Corp's NBC Universal.
"It's hard to get somebody to write you a check for a few million
dollars and say, 'Go make a movie.' It takes a lot of trust, and
they've got to believe that you've got the know-how. That takes time
to accrue," he said.
The film has so far received lukewarm reviews from critics, with
Manohla Dargis at The New York Times writing that the film's appeal
lies in "irresistibly disreputable characters engaging in socially
After building a career through sitcoms such as "Valerie," Bateman
carved out a niche playing the affable deadpan guy in dark comedies
littered with cynicism and often absurdity, such as 2007's Juno" and
2011's "Horrible Bosses."
But it was his leading role as Michael Bluth in the FOX television
series "Arrested Development," which was revived last year for a
fourth season on Netflix, that the actor credits with changing how
Hollywood perceived his talents.
"It was something that was vital to where I am today. Without that,
I don't know if I'd even be in the business anymore," the actor
"I'm basically the straight man, I'm the proxy for the audience, and
it's a great privilege to be able to be the lens through which the
audience receives the eccentricity of that family," Bateman said of
playing Michael Bluth.
Ted Sarandos, the chief content officer for Netflix, said last year
that there was "no question" the show would return. Bateman said he
"knew nothing" about when it would be back for a fifth season or
whether the DVD rental and online streaming service would make it
into a movie.
(Editing by Mary Milliken and Amanda
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