Jason Bateman, the actor known for his roles in Arrested Development and Ozark, has been married to his longtime good friend Amanda Anka for 22 years this July. In their “effortless” love, Jason credits her for being the reason he straightened his life out after suffering various addictions and being a frequent partier early in his career.
The two met in 1987 while attending a Los Angeles Kings hockey game at the age of 18. Neither of them were strangers to celebrity life, Jason having been a child actor with his debut role in 1981 as James Cooper in the series adaptation of Little House on the Prairie, and Amanda being the daughter to 50s singing icon Paul Anka with hits like “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” and “Diana”.
However, their romantic relationship didn’t kick off right away, as Amanda wasn’t into Jason’s unpredictable lifestyle at the time.
“I just wasn’t into where he was at,” Anka told GQ in 2013.
“It’s just like anytime anybody’s ever been single and you’re like ‘God, if I could just get another girlfriend, I’d feel a lot better,’ Jason recalled in the same interview after talking about his depression and partying days. “Well, you’re not going to get a girlfriend until you don’t need one. Right? So as soon as you stop looking, things come. So that time was healthy.
“It was painful, but it was healthy,” he continued. “So along comes Arrested Development, along comes Amanda, my wife still to this day, and sobriety, too. So all of these things kind of coalesced around my early thirties, and it has fueled and continued to fuel the respect that I have for people, for work, for this business. I really feel lucky that ambition is matched with access right now.”
Regarding his partying years and the times he was struggling with addiction, he opened up more about it in an interview with Details in 2009, referring to that time of his life as “Risky Business for 10 years.”
“My parents were out of town, they left me a bunch of money, the car, and the house, and I didn’t know when they were coming home. I’d worked so hard that by the time I was 20, I wanted to play hard. And I did that really well,” Bateman confessed.
By the time he was married to Anka, he was still coming home late and acting reckless. But with a wife and starting to transition into his adulthood, he wasn’t going to be getting away with this type of behavior very long, and Anka let him know as much, leaving him alone on Christmas one year to show how serious she was about wanting him to change his ways.
“Do you want to continue being great at being in your 20s, or do you want to step up and graduate into adulthood?” he recalled asking himself. It was at this point that he decided to attend Alcoholics Anonymous.
It proved to be for the better, as shortly after he made his lifestyle change, the couple welcomed their first daughter, Francesca, in 2006.
By 2012, they welcomed their second daughter Maple, and in 2014, he spoke with the Daily Telegraph about how he’s reflecting on his younger days compared to where he is now as a successful actor, husband, and father.
“There are certain things you do at certain ages in life which are appropriate for the times, and right now it’s appropriate for me to be a father and a husband and a guy with a career,” he said at the time. “Those are the three things I’m focused on.”
Bateman also shared with Redbook in 2013 the advantages to marrying a friend and how his and Amanda’s relationship “defied the odds”.
“We are really aware of our boundaries. We know how to bug each other and not bug each other,” the Horrible Bosses star shared. “If you don’t get along, it’s garbage. With a girlfriend, you get into a fight, you drive away. With us, we learn to fight quickly or not at all. I wanted to marry a friend. Friends last longer.”
Bateman continues to credit his wife for all that she’s done to help him mature and be the man he’s always wanted to be. In 2019, after winning his first SAG Award for his role in Netflix’s Ozark, he gave a sweet shout out to his wife and daughters.
“Without [my family] none of it would be enjoyable and probably wouldn’t be possible. So I love you more than I even tell you I do,” he said during his speech. “I’ll be home for kisses so don’t go to bed. Amanda, pop a mint. I’m going to come give you yours in about five minutes.”