'Ozark' star Jason Bateman: We're not 'Breaking Bad' but we like the comparison

Bill Keveney
Jason Bateman, left, Laura Linney and Julia Garner talk about 'Ozark,' which returns for Season 2 on Aug. 31 during a Netflix summer TV press tour panel on Sunday.

BEVERLY HILLS, California – "Ozark" star Jason Bateman is appreciative of critical comparisons to "Breaking Bad," but he says the Netflix drama, which returns for Season 2 on Aug. 31, is quite different from the the classic outlaw drama.

"We feel fortunate any time we hear that. That show can never be touched," he told writers at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Sunday. "We're not trying to replicate or emulate anything they did narratively or aesthetically."

"Ozark" features Bateman and Laura Linney playing middle-class parents who move from Chicago to the Ozarks in an effort to continue a money-laundering operation for a Mexican drug cartel. The series received five Emmy nominations, including acting and directing nods for Bateman.

Bateman, who plays a financial planner deeply involved in money laundering, sees one parallel to "Breaking," which followed chemistry teacher Walter White evolving into a drug kingpin.

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In terms of comparisons, "I think what they might be referring to is a family you can relate to going through a set of decisions that are not very smart. (Marty) is an ethically challenged middle-aged white guy not making great calls," he said. "They make this decision early on in Episode 8 of the first season and they're paying the bill for that."     

Bateman and Linney, joined by co-star Julia Garner, also talked about the freedom chemistry affords actors, especially when they're playing characters embroiled in tense, upsetting scenes. 

"It's the result of a sense of respect, safety and freedom. You are genuinely curious and interested in the person you are looking at," Linney said. "Parts of 'Ozark' are so intense and difficult but we fly through it effortlessly ... because all the pieces are in place."

Bateman continued that theme, explaining it's harder to act out anger and emotion in a scene if you don't get along with another actor, because there's the fear of offending. When actors get along, there's a freedom with challenging, emotional scenes.

"We really dig in and love those dramatic (scenes), because nobody's going to take offense," he said. "If you can trust that they know you get along, you can take the gloves off." 

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