Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy play a game of cat and mouse in the comedy film “Identify Thief.” The movie’s basic plot is that a mild-mannered businessman named Sandy Bigelow Patterson (played by Bateman) has his identity stolen by a con artist named Diana (played by Melissa McCarthy), who wastes no time in going on a spending spree with the credit cards she has received in Sandy’s name.
An overworked police officer who investigates the case suggests that Sandy track down Diana on his own. Heavily in debt and about to lose his job, Sandy takes the cop’s advice and goes on a road trip by himself to find Sandy, get her to admit her crimes against him, and clear his name. Here is what Bateman and McCarthy said when they joked throughout an interview for “Identity Thief” at the movie’s Los Angeles press junket.
“Identity Thief” has a concept that we’ve never seen before in a comedy film. Is that what enticed you to do the movie?
Bateman: And the money. Sure. I like two-handers, which is one person against another. I love “Midnight Run” and “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” And [“Identity Thief”] seemed like it could be the proper recipe for something like that.
And I saw old Funny Pants here [he nods to McCarthy] in “Bridesmaids.” And the following day, I called the smart people over at Universal, and I said, “Can we switch the role of a thief from a man to a woman?” And they said, “Great. See if you can talk her into it.” So I bought her lunch.
McCarthy: That’s all it takes.
Bateman: Well, the booze. Three or four bottles.
McCarthy: I think by lunch, I mean two damn bottles of hooch.
There’s a lot of physical comedy in “Identity Thief.” What was that like for you to do physical comedy together?
McCarthy: It’s tough working with him. It is real tough.
Bateman: Especially if you get lippy, and someone finds themselves on the highway.
McCarthy: Yeah. Apparently if I get mouthy, someone [she points to Bateman] likes to throw me down on the asphalt.
Bateman: It worked for the scene. I thought it was funny.
McCarthy: He’s not choreographed, and he didn’t remember doing it, which is maybe the most terrifying part.
Bateman: I get into a talent blackout, and the magic takes over, and sometimes people end up on the ground.
McCarthy: Apparently. Some blood was shed.
Bateman: I paid a bill with a couple of bloody noses.
McCarthy: I paid him back.
Bateman: This one loves to swing a left.
McCarthy: It’s a good one. Both.
Bateman: It bleeds no matter what you hit it with.
McCarthy: Both will get you blood, so we meet in the middle. It’s a sweet spot. [They both laugh.]
So how did you master that punch to Jason’s throat?
McCarthy: I just looked at that and I thought, “God, that just looks soft and punchable.” And I said, “Can I just start punching him in the throat?”
Bateman: And the director laughed his ass off. He thought it was a great idea. I was not consulted. Luckily, she’s got good depth perception, so she faked it pretty good most times.
McCarthy: A couple of nicks, sure.
What do you think audiences are going to take away from seeing “Identity Thief”?
Bateman: Some sore sides and a red knee from slapping it. Boy, it’s funny. They’re not going to learn a whole lot of lessons about how to protect their identity. They’re going to know to look out for her [he points to McCarthy], because she’s a thief.
McCarthy: Sure, and I bet people will actually think about giving their personal information out. It’ll make you think about it.
Bateman: Because I do what a not-bright person would do: I give my Social Security [number] over the phone. It’s not the best way to start your day.
McCarthy: It’s not the best thing to do.
For more info: “Identity Thief” website
RELATED LINKS ON snaptwig.com:
Interview with Jason Bateman for “Up in the Air”
Interview with Jason Bateman for “Switch”
Interview with Jason Bateman for “Paul” (Comic-Con panel)
Interview with Jason Bateman for “Paul” (New York City press junket)
Interview with Jason Bateman for “Horrible Bosses”
Interview with Jason Bateman for “The Change-Up”
Interview with Jason Bateman for “Disconnect”
Interview with Melissa McCarthy for “Bridesmaids”
Interview with Melissa McCarthy for “The Heat”