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Actress Julia Garner Talks Season Two of the Netflix Crime-Drama ‘Ozark’

August 21, 2018Ben MK

With her curly blonde hair and infectious laugh, Julia Garner doesn't evoke the typical image that might come to mind when you think "drug kingpin." However, for the Netflix original drama Ozark, that's precisely the nature of the role she's been tasked with playing.

Now about to bow its second season, the critically acclaimed Jason Bateman and Laura Linney crime-drama finds Garner reprising the character of Ruth, the 19-year-old matriarch of the Langmore clan, whom former Chicago businessman Marty Byrde (Bateman) and his wife, Wendy (Linney), end up going up against after transplanting their drug operation from the Windy City to the Ozark Mountains. But while Ruth may appear, well, ruthless, on the outside, Garner assures us that it's all a facade.

I sat down with the 24-year-old actress to talk about what it was like returning to the show for season two, her approach to acting, and whether she would eventually like to branch out into directing one day.

As an actor, you must find something to relate to in all your roles. Do you find it easy to empathize with your character of Ruth in Ozark?

Garner: Well, I empathize with all the roles that I've played, because I feel like the first thing that you're taught as an actor is never to judge your character. I feel like you might not like yourself sometimes, but you don't really judge yourself for doing things; you kind of have a reason why you're doing something. You can't be judgmental with yourself so much. So it's the same thing when you pick a role, you can't judge your characters.

For season one, you previously spoke about one of the scariest scenes to film, which involved holding a rat by its tail. For season two, what was the scariest scene for you to film, personally?

Garner: I've had a lot of challenging scenes in Ozark, and everyone's like, "What's the most challenging scene?" And I'm like, "Holding the mouse by its tail." That was the most challenging scene, for me. Cuz I hate rodents. Luckily no, I did not have to hold any rodents this season. I was so happy. Everything else I can do fine.

So was there a similar scene in season two that was also kind of scary to shoot?

Garner: I wouldn't say scary. I would say uncomfortable. You're always in an uncomfortable mindset all the time. For six, seven months, however long we shoot, I always feel kind of stuck. Cuz Ruth feels stuck. She can't get out of her situation, so I carry that throughout the six months. Not that I get depressed, but I'm like, "Why am I so down? I feel so like nothing's moving on in my life." [Then] I'm like, "Oh, that's it. Because I play Ruth 18 hours a day, and I feel like I'm stuck." [laughs] But that's the character.

In general, what's your approach to acting? Like for season one, you started talking in the accent a month before the show started filming. So are you really method in your approach?

Garner: I think about my character all day, and I'll walk around for a month with the accent and not let it go, just so I'm comfortable with the accent. And I'll do self-work and everything. I don't know if that's method. To me, that's not method. I'm just doing my work. But I'm not method like Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot method. [laughs] Sometimes Jason [Bateman] would make fun of me that I was method.

So between takes you're back to being Julia...

Garner: Yes and no. If there's a scene where I'm just walking and opening a car door and getting in, [if] it's just a simple scene like that, then maybe. But if they're really intense scenes where I have to hysterically cry or just an extreme circumstance or be upset or be happy or anything like [that], I'll talk so I don't shake it off, because there's a lot of people walking around on-set. It's very easy to get distracted, so you have to make sure to have your own headspace. It requires a lot of focus to act.

After watching Jason Bateman direct for Ozark, has that planted a seed in you to want to direct one day as well?

Garner: I've definitely thought about it. But to me, I'm already such a control freak, [laughs] so I would probably drive myself crazy if I directed (one) and (two) I don't want the responsibility of a whole film production. I would just want to focus on the actors, so I would eventually love to teach acting. I think that you can direct actors and you can work with actors and highlight the actors and say what you should keep and what you shouldn't keep. But then not have to worry about a film production or film crew or editing or budget, or all these things that are kind of [a] headache that I don't really wanna do. [laughs]

Your career has been quite varied thus far. But is there a particular genre that you would like to work in that you haven't yet had the opportunity to work in?

Garner: Well, I like doing things that I haven't done before, or things that are different. But I wanna do something more comedic, just cuz I'm curious. Even like a rom-com, cuz I think a good rom-com can be great. Like When Harry Met Sally or anything that's classic like that. I don't think they have enough of those anymore.

Season two of Ozark begins streaming on Netflix August 31st, 2018.

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