Jason Bateman Chases Melissa McCarthy in ‘Identity Thief’

Jason Bateman was left black and blue while shooting wrestling scenes with Melissa McCarthy in his new comedy 'Identity Thief'.
Jason Bateman was given "a couple of bloody noses" by Melissa McCarthy filming 'Identity Thief'.
The actress didn't hold back during fighting scenes for the new comedy and Jason admits things got pretty painful during some scenes.
He said: "She looks so sweet then she'll punch you in the throat. All of that tussling and wrestling was painful at times. I paid the bill with a couple of bloody noses. She hit me with a right hook, then a left, then grabbed her camera to take a photo of it."
Jason knew he wanted to work with Melissa right from when he saw her in 'Bridesmaids', especially after he how far she was prepared to go for her roles.

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What was it about IDENTITY THIEF that made you want to star in the movie and also produce it?

IDENTITY THIEF was a script that came my way. It had an easy concept about someone who steals another person’s identity and it also involved a road trip. It was like two of my favorite movies, MIDNIGHT RUN and PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES put together.

Did you bring this project to filmmaker Seth Gordon?

Seth and I were in London working on the press tour for HORRIBLE BOSSES. I just talked him through it, as the project was in the beginning stages and looked like it could become a reality. He was excited about the concept. When I told him I had Melissa McCarthy in mind for the other main role, he said, “OK, I get it!”

What made Melissa McCarthy the right choice to play the thief that steals your character’s identity?

Melissa is one of the funniest people I know and she was open to playing the part.

What is Seth Gordon like as a director?

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Seth is a very nice man that runs a very kind shoot. We were lucky he agreed to do this because he knows how to set a great tone. He is incredibly talented, but the greatest thing about Seth Gordon is that he is just a good guy. You want good people on a comedy set. He is a great leader in that sense.

How important is it in the comedy genre to be able to work on a fun set?

You can’t have a bunch of bad or nasty people on a comedy set and expect them to do anything that’s funny. You don’t want any tension.

You play Sandy Bigelow Patterson. Who is he?

Sandy is basically a guy that I think people are pretty used to seeing me play. He is sort of an everyman that is right down the middle. It is important in every comedy to have that character in the center that we can relate to. That way, we can appreciate all the absurdity that happens around him.

What can you say about Melissa McCarthy’s character?

Melissa’s character is one of the greatest on-screen antagonists I’ve seen in a long time.

What do you believe Melissa McCarthy brought to the role of Diana?

Melissa played Diana with a lot more heart than we had originally intended in the script. Maybe it was our fault to only think that this character has these colors and that character has those other ones. Melissa was able to do so much and not make the character one-dimensional. She can put heart in a scene where it was not intended. As a result, she gives you something more fulfilling to watch.

You hit Melissa with a guitar. What was it like to film that scene?

I don’t believe I have ever hit a woman on or off a set before. I remember apologetically suggesting the idea of hitting her with this guitar to stop her from getting away. Seth Gordon laughed and said it would be great. We built a little side-helmet for the stunt girl and went ahead with the scene.

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Did you frequently improvise during this shoot?

There were some things that were improvised, but this script was written so beautifully by Craig Mazin that we didn’t need to do much. Still, we liked to surprise and say things differently with some of the final takes just to make people laugh. Some of those moments made it into the movie.

Even though the film is a comedy with some outrageous moments, it is also grounded in reality. Can you explain further?

In writing the script, Craig did a lot of research to make sure that everything was plausible. You always expand the borders when you take any kind of comedic license, but he tried to deal with all that as responsibly as he could.

Have you ever been the victim of any kind of identity theft?

Luckily, identity theft hasn’t happened to me yet, but it has happened to Melissa and many other people I know. Identity theft is happening more and more, since it is probably a little bit easier with the technology now. I’ve been very lucky so far.

Has your identity ever been mistaken with someone else’s?

I get mistaken for Jerry O’Connell quite a bit, but I don’t mind. He gets it the other way around as well. Every time we see each other, we compare stories.

Why did you decide to also produce the movie?

You don’t know how long you are going to be invited to this party, so it is fun to diversify. Like with any profession, you start to absorb and appreciate what other people you work with do, and some of those jobs are very interesting.

What do you enjoy about producing?

I enjoy trying to put together a group of people you really admire, whether you have full or limited access to them. It is kind of like building a sports team because you try to figure out who will do each job best.

Why did you decide to team up with Seth Gordon again?

I knew Seth would be a great guy to team up with again because we share a sensibility and he is such a nice guy. The same thing can be said about Craig Mazin.

What is the audience takeaway from IDENTITY THIEF, apart from all the fun and laughter?

IDENTITY THIEF is just a fun comedy. If there is a theme or a message, it is hopefully under many layers of light-hearted comedy. For me, that message would be that maybe, every once in a while, you should take a closer look at who you think you are because you probably could improve.

“Identity Thief” is released and distributed by United International Pictures through Solar Entertainment Corp. Showing May 1, 2013. Nationwide

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