‘Ozark’ Star Laura Linney on How RuPaul Was a Big Help During ‘Demanding’ Season 3 Shoot

TheWrap Emmy magazine: “We were all tired at the end of the season, there’s no question about that,” actress says about Netflix series

Laura Linney "Ozark" / Netflix

A version of this story about Laura Linney first appeared in the “Emmy Hot List” issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine

Things get even riskier for the money-laundering Byrde family in Season 3 of “Ozark,” and Emmy voters apparently love it that way: After giving the show five nominations in Season 1 and nine nominations and two wins in Season 2, they rewarded this season with 18 noms, tying it with “Succession” for the most of any drama series and trailing only “Watchmen” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” among all programs. Laura Linney, who plays the politically ambitious Wendy Byrde opposite Jason Bateman’s scheming Marty Byrde, talked about a season that included a notable storyline featuring Tom Pelphrey as Ben Davis, Wendy’s brother.

What do you think is different about your portrayal of Wendy this season?
Well, she’s just taken a more active role in her own survival. I think it starts with her being in a very ambiguous place of morality, you know? They’ve never made wise choices — she was in on the decision for Marty to start laundering. They start from a compromised place. This is not a story of good people going bad.

But she was trying to make sure her family was taken care of.
Well, I’d argue that as well. She’s not a great parent. These are complicated people who have always been complicated, they’ve just looked a little better on the surface and they’re evolving into their darker selves. That’s not to say there aren’t things about them that are very likable and that you don’t root for them. But if you just look at their actions, they’re not coming from the soundest place.

This season the show explored an additional layer of mental health issues because of Tom Pelphrey’s character.
Yeah. I really think Tom Pelphrey made our season. Any attention that I might be getting from the season all directly goes to him. He made everybody have so much more to play and he’s such a divine human being.

Did any particular moments this season leave you drained?
The whole season was a test. But the last four episodes, which were terrific because they were all directed by the same person, which gave us a through line and a consistency — those episodes were emotionally demanding. The schedule was demanding, the filming was demanding. We were all tired at the end of the season, there’s no question about that.

How do you decompress from emotionally heavy scenes? Jennifer Lawrence once said that when she was making “mother!” she got into such a dark place that she’d have to watch “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
I’m pretty good about being able to shake it off. I usually don’t have that sort of undertow after I’ve worked. But I will say, you know, “RuPaul’s Drag Race…” I will say that.

Read more from the Emmy Hot List issue of TheWrap Emmy magazine.


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