8 Milestones in the Evolution of Jason Bateman

In Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's new alien romp Paul, Jason Bateman co-stars as Agent Zoil, a government official with an unknown agenda who is on the hunt for the escaped alien of the title. How did Bateman go from child star to one of the go-to supporting (and sometimes lead) actors in Hollywood?

With every actor a direct line can be traced through their career in order to gauge their current place in the industry and with Bateman, that line starts high and ends high -- but there's a pretty nasty valley right in the middle. Let's look at eight milestones in the evolution of Jason Kent Bateman.

Little House on the Prairie (1981)

At just 12 years old, Bateman's first acting job came as James Cooper on 21 episodes of Little House on the Prairie. Though only a year from his breakout role on Silver Spoons, there's wasn't much in his Little House performance to indicate that 30 years later he'd be a go-to wiseacre. In the scene below, Bateman is falsely accused of stealing and punished for his actions -- he later discussed it with Diablo Cody at the 8:30 mark in this interview.

Silver Spoons (1982)

Jason Bateman absolutely owned Silver Spoons as Ricky Schroder's overly confident, wise-cracking friend, Derek Taylor. He was so good, in fact, that Bateman would be plucked from the series after only 21 episodes (leading a young me to tearfully ask my mom, "So Derek is really never coming back?") to star in his own series. Alfonso Ribeiro eventually replaced Bateman as Ricky's best friend on the show, before dying in a tragic break dancing accident. Not really. (He went on to play opposite Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.) Meanwhile, Bateman's Derek Taylor was reincarnated as Matthew Burton on...

It's Your Move (1984)

It's Your Movie might possibly be the most popular sitcom from the 1980s that no one has really heard of -- and didn't even last a full season. It's the Holy Grail (if you will) of the canceled-far-too-soon television sitcoms for Generation X. Bateman played Matthew Burton, a kid who's always planning some sort of crazy scam in order to get ahead, all while butting heads with his new neighbor, Norman. In this clip from the pilot, it's already evident how confident Bateman is an actor. As stated, It's Your Move was short lived -- having to face the powerhouse Dynasty on the schedule -- and only lasted 18 episodes.

Teen Wolf Too (1987)

This movie is so bad it could have really killed Bateman's career. A quasi-sequel to the very popular Teen Wolf, Bateman plays Todd Howard, cousin to Michael J. Fox's Scott Howard. See, even though the original Teen Wolf was released after Back to the Future, Fox had actually filmed it before his breakout; getting the Family Ties star to return for a low budget sequel was out of the question. So, Bateman was hired instead. How bad was Teen Wolf Too? Flip to the end of the below review by Siskel and Ebert to find out..

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  • The Winchester says:

    For my 9th birthday, I wanted to go to the movies for my party. We were all set to see something that turned out wasn't playing anymore. The replacement film?
    Teen Wolf Too.
    My father still refuses to let it go, bringing up my mistake of movie choice for two plus decades since.
    At least he knows how low the bar is set.

  • KevyB says:

    I'm sorry but this evolution leaves out a very important milestone: when Jason Bateman became HOT! It was evidently somewhere between 1997 and 2003, but you've provided NO video evidence of this happening. Shoddy!

  • LBP says:

    Unrelated, but god I just want to punch that little girl in that Little House of the Prairie clip.