The hush-hush whispers about the “Identity Thief” star that just won’t go away…

JASON BATEMAN owes his red-hot Hollywood film career to his “Juno” co-star Jennifer Garner!

Bateman, 44, nearly walked away from showbiz after poor ratings doomed his critically acclaimed TV series “Arrested Development,” sources say.

But then Jen­nifer begged him to play her hubby in the 2007 indie com­edy “Juno,” and his big-screen career exploded, sources say.

“JASON WAS ready to throw in the towel and move to Italy and open a coffee shop,” a longtime pal told The ENQUIRER. “He’d have worked in a factory or at a garage – anything to get out of Hollywood.”

Bateman made his first big splash in the sitcom “Valerie” in 1986. But his film career slumped after the kid­die comedy “Teen Wolf Too” bombed in 1987, and when his Golden-Globe winning gig in “Arrested Development” ended in 2006, he believed that he was destined to play second fiddle for the rest of his life.

“Jason felt that he had hit a wall in Hollywood and he would never make it to the A-list. After all these years, he wanted top billing,” the source said.

“He seriously considered leav­ing L.A., until Jennifer called and begged him to play her husband in ‘Juno,’” said the source.

The actor cast for the role had dropped out, and with filming set to start, pro­ducers offered Bateman a percentage of the profits to sign on.

“Juno” was a surprise hit, and Bateman’s deadpan touch led to a flood of big-screen comedies, including “Horrible Bosses,” “The Switch” and his latest, “Identity Thief” with Melissa McCarthy.

Looking back, he said: “My beak continues to get wet from ‘Juno’.”