Julia Garner Is Ozark’s Not-So-Secret Weapon

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Julia Garner Is <em>Ozark</em>’s Not-So-Secret Weapon
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  • Julia Garner plays Ruth Langmore on Ozark.
  • She’s been the best character for all four seasons of the show’s run, carrying storylines and giving a character who could have otherwise been flat an exceptional amount of depth.
  • She was once again nominated for an Emmy for her work in Season 3, and she once again won.

    There are a lot of top-level acting talents in OzarkJason Bateman (Marty Byrde) is a bona fide star, Laura Linney (Wendy Byrde) is a powerhouse who’s been nominated for an Oscar three times, Tom Pelphrey (Ben Davis) is a new favorite of David Fincher’s, and Janet McTeer (Helen Pierce) has herself been nominated for a pair of Oscars. Which is why it’s saying a lot when we say that Julia Garner—who plays the scrappy, enterprising Ruth Langmore—is the best character, giving the best performance, on Ozark.

    From her start as a backwoods scam artist in the first season, we’ve seen Ruth grow closer to the Byrdes through the years, to the point where she’s considered a part of the family for most of Season 3 before breaking off as Season 4 begins; but as Season 4 progresses, of course, she works her way back and forth. Blood is thicker than water, and Ruth is always feeling the back and forth pull between her alliance to Marty and Wendy, and the pull from her roots, with her fellow Langmores, and locals like Darlene Snell. For all the depth in her performance, Garner, 27, has won two Emmys for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama at the Primetime Emmys—and should certainly be nominated again for Season 4.

    In a way, Ruth is Ozark’s parallel to Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) on Breaking Bad. The difference being, however, that Ruth is a character in significantly more control; while she has been brought into the business by Marty and has an important relationship with him, she’s much more of an equal and respected partner. Walter White, on the other hand, emotionally abused and manipulated Jesse at just about every step of their journey together.

    In her performance, Garner gets so much to do. Not only does she get to be the most badass character in the show—she’s on the ground doing much of the dirty work, while Marty and Wendy are generally operating behind the scenes—but she gets to flex a lot of great character moments, too. She shares a relationship with Wendy’s brother, Ben, and also a rivalry with Frank Cosgrove Jr., the gangster from Kansas City. When the show eventually returns for the second half of Season 4, you can be sure that she’ll be back for more.

    Her acting has stood out elsewhere, too. In 2020, her role in The Assistant, an independent film inspired by the horrible scenarios that Harvey Weinstein put some of his employees through, was one of the most acclaimed movies of the year. That movie is now available to stream on Hulu, and has been an overperformer on iTunes and other platforms.

    Next month, she’ll star in another of Netflix’s most-awaited shows of the year: Inventing Anna, where she’ll play the notable real-life scammer Anna Delvey.

    Garner isn’t just known for her work on Ozark, either—she’s made a big splash in the entertainment industry the last few years.

    She’s now won two Emmys for playing Ruth Langmore.

    Despite being excellent as Ruth from the get-go in Ozark, Garner wasn’t even nominated for the first season of the show. She’s certainly made up for lost time, though, as she’s now won the Best Supporting Actress in a Drama category for Seasons 2 and 3 of the show. She faced staunch competition in the category, including Succession star Sarah Snook and Big Little Lies Oscar winners Laura Dern and Meryl Streep, but her excellent performance managed to win voters over for her second straight contest.

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    “You are the reason why I’m acting in the first place,” she said upon receiving her award, praising her fellow nominees. She also made sure to thank her co-stars and frequent scene partners, series leads Jason Bateman and Laura Linney. “Thank you Jason and Laura—Laura, I love you so much—for bringing me under your wings and not only teaching me how to be a better actor but a person.”

    Julia Garner has been in several other great shows too.

    julia garner maniac

    Netflix

    Even aside from her award-winning role on Ozark, Garner has made a splash in the last several years in acclaimed TV series. Back in 2018, she played Emma Stone’s sister in Cary Fukunaga’s underrated Netflix series Maniac. She also played one of Connie Britton’s daughters in the television adaptation of the hit podcast Dirty John, and had her own standalone storyline in a pair of episodes of Modern Love, the anthology show based on the famous New York Times column.

    Even before that, Garner had been making waves on television: she had a recurring role in The Americans, FX’s hit series about Russian spies in America during the ’80s, and also played a part in the Paramount Network’s Waco miniseries that focused on the true story of cult leader that got involved in a police stand-off.

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    She’s married to a rock star.

    In December 2019, Garner married Mark Foster, a rock star best known as the lead singer for the band Foster the People. The couple were engaged in May of the same year.

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    She was in one of 2020’s most acclaimed movies.

    the assistant julia garner

    Bleecker Street Films

    As we touched upon earlier, Garner received widespread acclaim for her performance in The Assistant, which came out on a limited basis at the end of January and is now available to rent on Amazon, VOD, and iTunes.

    The movie is about a young college graduate entering a job in the film production world, and is loosely based on things that were learned in light of the #MeToo movement and the crimes of Harvey Weinstein. The movie currently has a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and co-stars Succession star (and fellow 2020 Emmy nominee!) Matthew Macfayden.

    Stream The Assistant Here

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    She’s leading another Netflix series, playing infamous, real-life scammer Anna Delvey.

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    Garner was cast in the leading titular role of Inventing Anna, Shonda Rhimes’ Netflix series focusing on the story of the so-called SoHo grifter, Anna Delvey. Based on the The Cut story, Garner will be playing Anna Delvey, the real-life scam artist who ended up in prison. With the excitement that people had behind looking at things like the Fyre Festival and Theranos, we expect Garner’s turn in Inventing Anna to became an absolutely enormous hit—maybe even bigger than Ozark.

    The series will debut on Netflix on February 11.

    Evan is an associate editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE.

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