TODAY   |  March 10, 2014

Jason Bateman talks about new film ‘Bad Words’

Actor Jason Batemen opens up about directing and starring in his new comedy “Bad Words,” in which he says his character crashes a spelling bee to exact some revenge.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> 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?

>> yeah.

>> 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.