Photo courtesy of Focus Features
Actor Jason Bateman marks his directorial debut in his latest film, “Bad Words,” an edgy comedy starring Bateman as a raunchier character than his previous roles.
The film centers on 40-year-old Guy Trilby, a man attempting to dominate The Golden Quill national spelling bee after finding a loophole to compete against the other competitors, who are kids.
After building his career in television and film over the course of 20 years, Bateman said he felt it was the right opportunity to take a seat in the director’s chair.
“It’s the first time I had the opportunity to do it and the community would let me,” Bateman said. “I would direct full time if they would have me; it asked me to do everything that makes me excited to do everything that I love about film.”
“Bad Words” is a small-budgeted, limited release film that centers on Guy, a high school dropout who actually has spelling skills to compete, but lacks social skills.
Although he starred and directed, Bateman said it was not too hard to direct.
“It felt comfortable,” Bateman said. “You’re going to have to let me know if I could have done better. I did go after a couple actors, but they were unavailable, so I said ‘Well, why don’t I give it a shot?’ ”
Guy is persistent in trying to compete, much to the chagrin of the spelling bee’s officials and the competing students. Although the film centers on Guy’s rude, foul-mouthed personality other supporting characters get in on Guy’s journey.
Ten-year-old actor Rohan Chand plays Chaitanya Chopra, a fellow competitor who befriends Guy, much to Guy’s annoyance. Through Chaitanaya, Guy begins to soften his tough exterior and shows Chaitanaya a wild side to life.
Kathryn Hahn plays a reporter that gets in on the action of Guy’s spelling conquest. After many shenanigans and laughable moments, the audience learns the real reason for Guy’s participation in the bee.
The film also holds a strong supporting cast with the likes of Allison Janney, Rachael Harris, Ben Falcone and Philip Baker Hall.
Janney and Hall take on antagonist roles as the competition’s officials who undermine Bateman’s character. Bateman also said he was lucky to have a great supporting cast and their willingness to participate in “Bad Words.”
“They didn’t need to audition,” Bateman said. “I just asked and I was very very lucky. Allison Janney is the queen and Rachael Harris just annihilates me.”
Being that the film is based on a spelling bee, Bateman said he is a reasonable speller and participated in one when he was younger.
“I was a decent speller,” Bateman said. “I’m probably better than my wife and that all that matters. I lost in grade school in the first round, and the word was ‘answer.’ ”
Although the film has comedic bits, Bateman said “Bad Words” might not be perceived well by a broad audience, which is one of the reasons why it is a small budgeted film.
“It’s not for everyone,” Bateman said. “But if it’s your thing then I hope you enjoy it. I’m confident that most people who are somewhat rational and progressive would get it.”
“Bad Words” opens for limited release in the U.S. on March 14 and opens in Fresno on March 28.