TODAY | March 10, 2014
>> bateman is pulling double duty in his new movie, a dark comedy about a 40-year-old who worms his way into a kids' spelling bee to settle an old score. and not only is bateman the star, it also marks his directorial debut. what does it say about your character? despicable, mean, almost a bully, i would say?
>> listen, he is a gentleman who has had his feelings hurt and he's not as smart as you or me or a viewing public here. he's not well-equipped to sort of mend his wound, lick his wounds. so he's doing something kind of petulant and impulsive here and crashing a spelling bee to kind of exact some revenge.
>> he crashes the spelling bee , he's surrounded by little kids, that does not mean he uses soft and caring words. i mean, he's tough on these kids. he tricks them?
>> well, yeah, but it's because he's also kind of a kid. i mean, hopefully, people will see there's a deeper agenda here at play and he's -- the analogy i make is when a 5-year-old boy wants to tell a 6-year-old or 5-year-old girl that he likes her, he pulls her hair. you know, and that could be -- that's kind of what this guy is. that's how he bonds with these kids.
>> now, this is your first time directing. how did you find the lead actor ? difficult to direct.
>> just a dream. this guy, justin i think his first name is. no, jason. every take he did, it was like he was reading my mind. just spot on. no, it was -- i didn't want to play the lead role.
>> i was going to say, i actually heard you didn't want to cast yourself.
>> right. i went after a couple of much more talented gentlemen and they told me to lose their number. so i said i'll play it. because i thought it might lighten my work load if i didn't have to direct the lead actor . and it let me concentrate on other things.
>> what was it like to direct? is this something you wanted to do for a long time?
>> yeah, a very, very long time. it was a dream, you know. it's very complicated, involved process to create a fake world for an audience. and i just wanted the privilege of overseeing that process. it's a lot of people that are very skilled that you need to pull that off. and it was a pleasure to work with all of them.
>> as i mentioned, there are a lot of little kids in this movie. you, of course, grew up in this business. you once were a child actor . does that help you kind of relate to them.
>> yeah. one of my first big jobs was on " little house on the prairie ." look at that. it's like they're reading my mind. look at that. it's a beautiful piece. isn't it?
>> and that hair.
>> look how full that piece is. so michael landon was the writer, director, actor on that and took care of us little kids. and i found myself recalling a lot of those memories about how i was set to be. if i was bored, he would make it fun. so the kid who plays in this movie, he and i got along fast and well.
>> this, of course, as you mentioned was the backdrop of the spelling bee . were you a good speller? are you a good speller?
>> i'm -- i'm -- i'm better than my wife. that's all that counts. i was not a great speller. i was in one spelling bee when i was a little kid. i lost early to the word answer. dropped that tricky "w."
>> what about "surprise"?
>> z-u-r -- am i right so far?
>> no. the spelling bee aspect. we basically keep that in the background. it's basically a venue where all of this good stuff happens, you know.
>> i love spelling, though, and you have a doozy of a word in this. i want to see if you could spell it for us. flosinosinpilifilication, i believe.
>> okay. go ahead and start spelling it. you have to memorize that word?
>> well, we'd write them on cue cards around the camera. but multiple places so i could get three letters there and then and another card down, three more letters and, you know, so.
>> well, i won't ask you to spell it. just define it.
>> i don't -- i'm just a dumb actor.
>> dumb actor and director.
>> well, sure. but still dumb.
>> and you're directing again over the movie with nicole kidman , right?
>> yeah, starting in may, really excited.
>> well, the movie is " bad words ," very funny. you feel guilty for laughing because you're so bad.
>> always good to see you.
>> nice to see you.