Paramount Pictures’ Office Christmas Party is rolling into theaters to give some seasonal cheer with a hard-R brand of humor and cavalcade of comedy stars, including T.J. Miller, Kate McKinnon, Rob Corddry, Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Munn, Randall Park, and Jillian Bell. Stuffed to the brim like a stocking on Christmas morning with kooky characters, this festive film demands the ultimate straight man to serve as host to an audience eager to laugh. And who better for that role than Arrested Development‘s Jason Bateman?
When Screen Rant sat down with Bateman to discuss Office Christmas Party, the leading man with a signature smirk admitted he’s not much of a party guy himself, yet he relished playing the office realist and audience conduit amid so much merry mayhem. He also shared his secrets on how to avoid ruining takes by cracking up at your cutup co-stars, and why Arrested Development‘s Jeffrey Tambor once declared working with Bateman was like “acting with Helen Keller.”
Are you a big holiday party guy?
JASON BATEMAN: No, I’m not a Hollywood party guy. I’m not much of a party guy anymore. I lost all my drinking privileges about fifteen years ago, so parties for me are…
… watching other people get them?
JASON BATEMAN: …yeah, and it’s just too late, you know? I’m in bed by nine. Let’s get on with it.
Sure, I get that. So was it fun to sort of act out through Office Christmas Party and play that side of things?
JASON BATEMAN: Yeah, except my character doesn’t get too bananas. I play the guy that I like to play in these kind of things, which is sort of try to be the audience and be the adult. So, I love do that and I loved doing that in this because there’s a lot of really funny people in this. There’s sort of a counter balance that usually my character plays to that, so if I’m good at what I’m doing hopefully they’ll get to swing for the fences and it stays somewhat grounded.
Well you do get to dance in a giant snowman suit.
JASON BATEMAN: There is that. That’s a bit of an outlier *laughs* but yeah, that was pretty fun. I hate to dance so if I can hide it inside a big suit, that’s good.
When playing the straight man in a film, is it ever a challenge to keep a straight face whenever people are kind of doing…
JASON BATEMAN: Yeah, I’ve developed various techniques. I can drive my fingernail into my neighboring finger or I’ll bite my cheek or I’ll stare at the tip of their nose instead of their eyes, which still looks like I’m looking at you but I can’t. I actually got in trouble with Jeffery Tambor for doing that on Arrested Development. He said it was like acting with Helen Keller. My eye line was just off of his eyes because I couldn’t give him a straight, right-into-the-barrel look because he would kill me every time. He’s just too funny.
Watching this, it reminded me a little bit of Love Actually because it’s a holiday movie with a huge ensemble and lots of interweaving threads. How do you think this movie compares to that?
JASON BATEMAN: I have not seen that film but I hear it’s one not to be missed.
Well it’s one of the most controversial Christmas movies out there now.
JASON BATEMAN: Is that right?
Because people either love or hate Love Actually.
JASON BATEMAN: Who’s in that?
Every British person and then a smattering of Americans.
JASON BATEMAN: Oh. I gotcha. Alright. I’m gonna watch it.
Yeah, we’ll circle back. So is there any trivia about Office Christmas Party you’d like audiences to know about?
JASON BATEMAN: Uh…no…WELL…no…uh…the only interesting thing I can tell you about any sort of trivia about it is the abbreviation on emails is equal parts OCP and OXP. And no one could really decide, “What’s the best way to do it?” There you have it. How would you do it?
Well I know your hashtag is OFFICEXMASPARTY…
JASON BATEMAN: Uh huh, so if you were to truncate that you’d go OXP?
Yeah. And X just sounds cooler and more extreme inherit inevitably like XTina…
JASON BATEMAN: OCP sounds like an inability to focus.
Right. It sounds like something you have to get Ritalin for or something. Where’s OXP sounds like something’s going down…
JASON BATEMAN: Sounds like some bad-ass movie that’s going to make seven hundred million dollars.
You got it. We solved it. OXP.