Bateman was born in Rye, New York. His mother, Victoria Elizabeth, was a former flight attendant for Pan Am, and his father, Kent Bateman, is an actor, writer and director of film and television, and founder of a repertory stage in Hollywood. His mother was English, born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Bateman's older sister, Justine, is known for her work on the sitcom Family Ties. Bateman also has three half-brothers. Bateman was four years old when his family moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, and later to California. Bateman told Best Life magazine that he and sister, Justine Bateman, supported their parents with the paychecks they earned from their television shows; he also revealed that he was managed by his father until Bateman dissolved the business relationship at the age of 20. In 1987, Bateman won the celebrity portion of the Long Beach Grand Prix. Throughout the 1990s, he struggled with an addiction to alcohol and drugs; he stated in a 2009 interview that "it was like Risky Business for ten years". Bateman married Amanda Anka, daughter of singer Paul Anka, in July 2001. They have two daughters: Francesca Nora (born October 28, 2006) and Maple Sylvie (born February 10, 2012). In late 2005, he had surgery to remove a benign polyp from his throat. The surgery required recovery time and halted production on Arrested Development, although enough episodes had been completed to get the show through the November sweeps period.
Bateman started his television career on Little House on the Prairie as James Cooper, an orphaned boy who, along with his sister, is adopted by the Ingalls family. From 1982 to 1984 he was a supporting character on the television show Silver Spoons as Ricky Schroder's 'bad boy' friend. He appeared in the Knight Rider third-season episode "Lost Knight" in 1984, and a number of other small television roles. In 1987, he appeared with Burt Reynolds on the men's team in the inaugural week of game show Win, Lose or Draw. Jason earned the status of teen idol in the mid-1980s for his television work, most notably The Hogan Family (originally titled Valerie, Valerie's Family,The Hogans and finally The Hogan Family after Valerie Harper left the series). He became the Directors Guild of America's youngest-ever director when he helmed three episodes of The Hogan Family at the age of eighteen. After the series ended its run, he gained international recognition in the motion picture Teen Wolf Too, which was a box office failure. In 1994, he played opposite legendary actors Katharine Hepburn and Anthony Quinn in the television film This Can't Be Love. During this period, he had major roles on four series—Simon, Chicago Sons, George & Leo, and Some of My Best Friends—none of which lasted longer than one season. He also directed an episode of Two of a Kind in 1999. In 2002, he played the frisky sibling of Thomas Jane's character in the feature film The Sweetest Thing. In 2003, Bateman was cast as Michael Bluth in the comedy series Arrested Development. Although critically acclaimed, the series never achieved high ratings and ended on February 10, 2006. The show was revived in spring 2013. Bateman won several awards for his work on the series, including a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy. He was also nominated in 2005 for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series. New episodes of Arrested Development have been released on Netflix with the original cast, including Bateman. Bateman performed commentary on the 2004 Democratic National Convention for The Majority Report with Arrested Development co-star David Cross, and hosted NBC's Saturday Night Live on February 12, 2005. In 2006, he appeared as a guest star on the Scrubs episode "My Big Bird" as Mr. Sutton, a garbage man with a flock of vicious ostriches as pets. In 2009, Bateman became a regular voice actor for the short-lived Fox comedy series Sit Down, Shut Up. He voiced Larry Littlejunk, the gym teacher and only staff member that can teach. In 2010, Bateman and Arrested Development co-star Will Arnett created "DumbDumb Productions," a production company focusing on digital content. Their first video was "Prom Date," the first in a series of "Dirty Shorts" for Orbit. In 2012, Bateman returned to his role of Michael Bluth for the revival of Arrested Development along with the rest of the original cast. The now-Netflix sponsored series released Season 4 on its Instant Watch website on May 26, 2013. The series is expected to continue its run as well as a potential feature film. For the new fourth season, Bateman was once again nominated for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series. Bateman features in the video for Mumford and Sons song Hopeless Wanderer.