Bateman said the mood and darkness were elements that instantly drew him to the series, and, though certain scenes push limits, the producing team didn’t worry about “Ozark” going too far.
‘We weren’t too concerned about being dark because we were always aware of the necessary counterbalance to that,” he said. “We had to make sure we were presenting enough humanity and vulnerability, doubt, reluctance, and regret on one side that would counterbalance, justify, and earn a lot of these very dark and unsettling decisions. You’ve got to try to find that balance and predict what kind of tolerance your audience has at that moment.”
Precisely placed moments of levity also helped balance out the series. “Ozark” is constantly tense, but its humor slips in and elevates the characters’ humanity without disrupting the tension. How the creators knew when to utilize jokes and Marty’s witty asides was a mysterious matter, even to Bateman.
“I think I’d be lying to you if I said I did know,” he said. “But humor is important in anything because it constantly brings you back to something that’s super relatable. If you can make a group of people laugh, it’s a real tell-tale sign that you’re connecting with people.”
“We probably could’ve afforded to open it up a couple of more times to the humor, but I never wanted to do that at the expense of […] this internal struggle that Marty and his family are going through and trying to keep their head above water. You don’t laugh a lot while you’re gasping for air. We’ll find a few more of those opportunities next year, if we’re lucky enough to get one.”
In regard to Season 2, Bateman noted how he didn’t want to be presumptuous about a renewal, and he was very happy with how Season 1 ended.
“There’s not some obnoxious cliffhanger,” he said. “I’m really, really proud of [showrunner] Chris [Mundy] and his staff; the way that they chose to wrap everything up in a pretty subtle way.”
But there are plans in place for Season 2.
“Obviously, there’s the opportunity for Marty to work very closely with the Snells and with Ruth,” Bateman said. “He’s got $50 million to wash now instead of $8 million. These huge escalations are going to present more complications and higher stakes for him. We’ve got the riverboat casino and probably some bureaucratic and civic challenges [associated with its operation]. We’re going to have some bad guys that are probably wearing ties next year as opposed to blue jeans. He might spend a little time up in St. Louis or Kansas City in pursuing some of these bigger deals that he’s going to need to accomplish to get this bigger number washed.”
Though the city lights are on the horizon, Marty isn’t out of the woods yet. Darkness permeates “Ozark” even outside of the small, forested, lakeside community. And Jason Bateman wouldn’t have it any other way.