×

Jason Bateman and Bill Hader Talk Being Emmy’s Dual Acting-Directing Nominees

It’s not unusual for actors to eventually move behind the camera as directors, particularly in today’s TV landscape of niche projects that celebrate unique points of view. In fact, many of the men in this year’s lead actor categories have scored their DGA cards, either by directing their current shows or other projects. And three of them — “Atlanta’s” Donald Glover, “Barry’s” Bill Hader and “Ozark’s” Jason Bateman — received Emmy nominations for their helming efforts. And lest we forget, NBC’s “This Is Us,” a drama series nominee, counts among its executive producers Ken Olin — famous for his role in 20th century tear-jerker “Thirtysomething.”

For Hader in particular, directing is realizing a dream long in the making. Despite his reputation and Emmy recognition for his on-screen characters — and caricatures — the “Saturday Night Live” vet says he arrived in Hollywood in 1999 with the intention of becoming a writer and helmer and never got to direct until now. But, as a co-creator of the comedy about the titular hitman who comes to Los Angeles and discovers a yearning to be on stage, he felt it was his duty to shepherd the show’s first episode. He also directed its second and third.

“The story for ‘Barry’ was the kind of thing that I always liked,” Hader says of finally stepping behind the camera, particularly early on when it would mean setting the show’s aesthetic. “I saw it very clearly and I knew the tone of it.”

Especially because of the precarious nature of a pilot episode, Hader says he felt safer doing it himself than entrusting his vision to a stranger. “I’ve been in enough productions where that had happened. If you hire people, you should let them do their jobs and not micro-manage people.”

This doesn’t mean there can’t be some misunderstanding among the cast when the first on the call sheet is also calling cut, though.
“Sarah Goldberg [who co-stars as Barry’s love interest] would look at me differently at times when we’re shooting and go, ‘do you not like what I’m doing?,’” Hader says, laughing. He says he explained, “‘Oh! I’m reacting to you in character. The character Barry looks concerned. I’m not concerned that you’re doing it wrong.’”

Part of the reason he was able to check this item off his career bucket list was that he had the backing of Alec Berg, Hader says. His “Barry” co-creator had already earned HBO’s trust through his other Emmy-nominated comedy, the well-established “Silicon Valley.”

“If you hire people, you should let Them do their jobs.”
Bill Hader

Bateman may have considerably more experience in the director’s chair — he’s been sitting in it since his days on the sitcom “Valerie,” has two features under his belt and only directed four instead of all 10 episodes of his crime drama’s first season because of scheduling, but he spoke of a similar symbiosis with “Ozark” showrunner Chris Mundy.

“It’s a two-headed beast,” says Bateman of his relationship with the venerable writer. “He is doing anything and everything associated with the writing and I am doing anything and everything involved with the process stuff and we have some beautiful overlap in the casting choices and about directors and looking at cuts and dealing with post-production. It is actually a dream scenario for him and me.”

But does directing oneself also help uncover previously hidden nuances of one character? Bateman says he’s not sure, but it does cut down on explanations.

“I’d say that the fact that I had a hand on the wheel behind the camera as well as a hand in front of the camera allowed me to do things differently, knowing what I’d be able to go around the performance as a director,” he says. “For instance, if I wanted to play a scene without any emotion at all because I thought that there was going to be a really emotional piece of music behind it or vice versa. It just gives you a clearer picture of what the final experience was going to be for the audience.”

More TV

  • SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases

    SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases 'The Magicians' Season 5 Clip (Watch)

    In today’s SDCC TV news roundup, Syfy shares a clip from “The Magicians” Season 5, and Amazon sets the Season 4 premiere of “The Expanse.” CASTING Julie Gonzalo and Staz Nair have joined the cast of “Supergirl” for its upcoming fifth season. Gonzalo will portray iconic DC character Andrea Rojas aka Acrata, a polished businesswoman [...]

  • Doom Patrol -- Ep. 101 --

    'Doom Patrol' Renewed, Season 2 to Stream on DC Universe and HBO Max

    “Doom Patrol” has been renewed for a second season and will soon be available outside of DC Universe. At San Diego Comic-Con, series executive producer Jeremy Carver and star Diane Guerrero announced not only that the show will be back for another season but also that it will be available on HBO Max, the upcoming [...]

  • Teyonah Parris

    Teyonah Parris Cast in 'WandaVision' at Disney Plus

    “Mad Men” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” actress Teyonah Parris has been cast in Disney Plus’ “Wanda Vision” series. She will play an adult version of Monica Rambeau, a child character introduced in the film “Captain Marvel.” The announcement was made at Marvel’s Comic-Con presentation. The forthcoming Disney+ series about Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth [...]

  • Zachary Quinto as Charlie Manx - NOS4A2

    'NOS4A2' Renewed for Season 2 at AMC

    AMC has renewed “NOS4A2” for a second season. The news was announced during the show’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con and ahead of the Season 1 finale. Season 2 will consist of 10 episodes and is slated to air in 2020. The series, which is based on the 2013 Joe Hill novel of the same [...]

  • Gabrielle Carteris

    SAG-AFTRA Signs Netflix Deal With Expanded Coverage

    SAG-AFTRA and streaming giant Netflix have agreed to a new three-year contract with expanded coverage for union performers. Netflix has previously employed SAG-AFTRA members under the union’s standard master contracts for television and film and had been signing on a production by production basis. The union announced Saturday that the new deal recognizes performance capture as covered work [...]

  • Cara Delevingne'Carnival Row' TV show photocall,

    Cara Delevingne Says Her 'Carnival Row' Character Is Pansexual, Explains Defending Taylor Swift Against Justin Bieber

    Cara Delevingne and Orlando Bloom’s love affair may be at the center of the upcoming Amazon Prime Video series “Carnival Row,” but the British actress doesn’t want viewers to assume her faerie character is heterosexual. “I’m a pansexual faerie,” Delevingne told Variety during an exclusive one-on-one interview at Comic-Con adding that there are other queer [...]

  • 'Russian Doll' Star Charlie Barnett Joins

    'Russian Doll' Star Charlie Barnett Joins 'Arrow' Final Season

    “Russian Doll” standout Charlie Barnett is joining the “Arrowverse.” Barnett, who is having a busy year having also appeared in Netflix’s “Tales of the City,” comes on board in the series regular role of John Diggle, Jr., son of David Ramsey’s character. News of his casting was announced at the show’s farewell Comic-Con panel where things [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content