Julia Garner won her second Emmy Award on Sunday for playing Ruth Langmore in Netflix hit Ozark, a flinty character we’ve seen grow and find love in season three this year, but the actress shudders at the idea of her becoming vulnerable.
Ruth is a tough, thieving tomboy of a backwoods girl, but underestimate her at your peril, as Wendy and Marty Byrde (Laura Linney and Jason Bateman) have come to learn.
Garner spoke to Netflix Queue before the Emmys about Ruth’s development in season three, becoming a casino boss and a girlfriend.
“There’s a difference between being repetitive and consistent,” she said. “You want to make a person consistent with what you did in season one, but you don’t want the audience to get bored. You want them to grow every season, and you want the audience to learn something new about the character. I have to say this season was really hard in the sense that I was afraid that maybe there was going to be too much change because she had a love interest.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, I don’t want it to be that all of a sudden Ruth is vulnerable’. I had to really plan out how I was going to do it in a way that makes sense for it to happen to Ruth.”
Her Ozark co-star Laura Linney was full of praise for the 26-year-old. “Julia understands herself really well, and she trusts her own unique way of working. That’s why it’s so effective and she’s so good in the show. You could never imagine anyone else ever playing Ruth.”
The New York native says the city was an inspiration for her way of working and preparation. “One of my favourite things to do is just to sit on a park bench and see how everybody’s walking and what their energy is like. My mom and I have this game we play called ‘What’s their problem?’ It’s so dark, but you make up problems and scenarios for the people that are walking past you.”
This process helped when she was developing Ruth. “There’s something very childlike about Ruth, and there’s something about how she grew up with men. She’s not a girl’s girl. She doesn’t know how to be around women, because she never really had women in her life. When I was preparing for the role, I liked the idea of her having that angry little walk. The angrier she gets, the more she gets like a little bully on the playground. I just loved that.”
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After she won her first Emmy in September 2019, Garner swerved the after-parties and boarded a flight back to Atlanta, ready to be on set first thing the next day, where she uttered the memorable insult at Wendy: “Ya f**king bitch-wolf!”
She may not have followed the same path today – production on Ozark season four won’t begin until November – but when it comes expect many more of those foul-mouthed zingers.