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Jason Bateman on How Other Antihero Shows Inspired Netflix’s ‘Ozark’

Some of Hollywood’s top dogs including Danny Strong, Cary Fukunaga and Bruce Altman were out to celebrate the New York premiere of the crime drama “Ozark” Thursday night. The project is Jason Bateman second with Netflix, after the revival of comedy cult favorite “Arrested Development” in 2013.

Also starring Laura Linney, the show follows the Byrde family. Marty (Bateman), a Chicago financial advisor has been quietly laundering money for a drug cartel for years. After his partner runs afoul, the entire family is uprooted and arrives in a lazy resort town around the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, where Marty promises to clean money for the drug lord.

“I was looking for something to challenge myself because I had a really good time directing ‘Bad Words’ and ‘The Family Fang,’” said Bateman, who also got behind the camera for several episodes. “This came along and the notion to executive produce, which is kind of equivalent in directing in film, was the big ask and they trusted me with that. I couldn’t be happier with the result.”

Netflix has big expectations for the show, said VP of original series Cindy Holland.

“I think it’s a fantastic character story and a drama that is about a family,” Holland said. “We have phenomenal actors and we really see that marriage in crisis, and we see the family together trying to work together to overcome the obstacles. I think that makes it different from other antihero shows.”

Bateman agreed adding, “Our goal wasn’t try to be something that is obnoxiously different. We’re really inspired by a lot of those [antihero] shows. I think we’re trying to be half as good as some of those incredible shows. We were really motivated by that kind of genre out there now.”

Linney said the chance to work alongside Bateman was a primary reason she signed on.

“I’ve always had an inkling that we had a similar taste level,” she said. “I think [Jason] has a really big range, and I think he’s only been able to stay in one lane for a long time, so I was very excited for him to get to do something people weren’t expecting.”

Showrunner Chris Mundy, who previously served as a writer on Netflix’s “Bloodline,” spoke to Linney and Bateman’s characters.

“They did so much work right away to have the audience accept their characters, even though they’ve done not very nice things,” Mundy said. “Jason, who is so likable … we couldn’t do it without him.”

The show’s first season will be available on Netflix July 21.

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