Jason Bateman: 'Identity Thief' Melissa McCarthy 'has a lot of anger issues'

Jan. 31, 2013 at 9:26 AM ET

As a showbiz veteran, Jason Bateman knows a person has to be willing to take his lumps to make it in Hollywood. "It's really hard to stay employed in this business," he told TODAY's Matt Lauer Thursday.

That hasn't been a problem for Bateman, who after all these years is still ready to bleed for his art. Take "Identity Thief," in which he spars with Melissa McCarthy, who plays the film's titular criminal. Earlier this week, McCarthy mentioned that she beat "the bejeepers out of" her co-star, and on Thursday Bateman confirmed it.

"The throat punch (she gave me) was a fake," he said. "The smacks to the beak were real. My nose bled twice during the filming!"

He added, tongue-in-cheek, "She has a lot of anger issues."

He should have been able to guess that McCarthy would be a no-holds-barred performer after watching her in "Bridesmaids"; that performance led him to decide to cast her in "Identity Thief," which he also produced.

"I, like everybody fell in love with her (in "Bridesmaids")," he explained. "I went to the premiere of that film and the next day called the studio and my producing partner ... said, 'Why don't we switch the thief from a man to a woman' so that I can work with this woman ... because she's going to be white-hot. And we were correct. She's way too expensive now.'"

And it all worked out beautifully. Lauer noted that McCarthy does make mincemeat of him in this film, and Bateman nodded and smiled. "I let her have me," he said. "I like to be submissive to women."

"Identity Thief" opens in theaters on Feb. 8.

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