[Editor’s Note: The following story contains mild spoilers for Season 3 of “Ozark.”]
Julia Garner is likely enjoying her biggest audience ever at the current moment, with viewers at home binge-streaming “Ozark” on Netflix, and now tuning into “The Assistant,” her #MeToo-themed drama that just landed on VOD platforms. IndieWire’s Executive Editor and Chief Critic Eric Kohn recently spoke with the actress via an Instagram live conversation, ranging from her work on Kitty Green’s “The Assistant,” to her upcoming portrayal as socialite criminal Anna Delvey in “Inventing Anna,” and of course her iconic turn as the foul-mouthed, steely Ruth Langmore in “Ozark.” Watch the full conversation above.
For Garner, the key to her powerful performances is in viewing “every character… like a person. What people have over characters is detail,” she said. For Season 3 of “Ozark,” Garner said the challenge was to make sure she was “consistent, but not repetitive,” as Ruth’s role in abetting the Byrdes’ money-laundering schemes deepens, and she develops an unlikely romance with Wendy Byrde’s (Laura Linney) brother, Ben (Tom Pelphrey).
“I wanted to make sure that she was growing. The thing you see this season is a more sensitive, vulnerable, and gentle side of Ruth and I think it’s because she has a love interest,” she said. “She always has that wall, and with Ben she put down that wall, because she actually needed to be loved because… she lost everybody in her life.” But, Garner said, “there are certain things that are the same, like she’s going to walk the same; she’s going to react in the same way.”
When asked what to expect for Season 4 of “Ozark,” which is inevitable even if it hasn’t been officially announced, Garner didn’t want to give the plot away, but offered a tease as to where Ruth is headed in the next round.
“Ruth has a really good intuition, a gut feeling, always, like she was always right, and Marty and the Byrdes kind of took over that and she stopped listening to that, and at Season 3, she made the mistake again [of] not listening to her gut, going with the Byrdes, doing all this stuff for the Byrdes, and she’s done with it,” Garner said. “In Season 4, she wants that independence back that she had before the Byrdes came in. She realized she was more independent and stronger without the Byrdes. She thought she was going to be stronger with the Byrdes, but in reality that wasn’t the case. She’s realizing that, and that’s what Season 4 is going to be.”
Garner’s turn in “Ozark” won her a Primetime Emmy last year, which caught her pleasantly off guard. “When we were filming Season 3, the Emmys were happening. The night of the Emmys, the day after I had to fly back to Atlanta,” she said. The day after the Emmys, Garner had to shoot perhaps her biggest scene in the show yet, as she storms out on the Byrdes after calling Wendy a “bitch wolf.”
When she won the Emmy, she said she made “the worst mistake you can do: don’t look at the front of the audience. It threw me off,” she said. “I, by accident, looked at the front and I saw all these people, and I made direct eye contact — love him! — with Michael Douglas!”