‘Ozark’: Why Julia Garner Struggled to Get Through This Memorable Ruth Scene

by Caitlin Berard

The mark of a great movie or television show is the audience’s ability to get lost in the production. We all know that Ozark and Yellowstone, for example, are comprised of fictional stories. But for those brief stretches of time in which we’re watching an episode, we forget about that. And it’s this captivating quality that allows us to connect to our favorite characters and feel intense emotion toward moving storylines.

This is accomplished through the combination of a variety of cinematic ingredients. Arguably the most important, however, is the acting. An actor’s believability (or lack thereof) can make or break a production. And it’s for this very reason that actors and directors go to such great lengths to achieve a high level of authenticity.

How do you ensure an actor adequately portrays what it’s like to be submerged in freezing cold seawater? Film the scene while they’re submerged in freezing cold seawater, of course. How can you be sure an actor will look believably comfortable on a horse for their role as a cowboy? Make them go to cowboy camp to learn the ropes.

Everyone has their limits, however. And for Ozark‘s Julia Garner, the line that she refused to cross was touching a mouse.

‘Ozark’ Star Julia Garner Explains Her Fear of Mice

Ozark‘s cast is nothing short of incredible. There’s a reason the series was nominated for dozens of Emmys in its five-season run. The most beloved character of all, however, is Julia Garner’s Ruth Langmore. Ruth is a foul-mouthed young woman with a short fuse and a seemingly endless well of courage.

Julia Garner’s portrayal of Ruth is impeccable. But, like many actors, Julia claims she’s absolutely nothing like her fan-favorite character.

“I am so different from this character,” she admitted in a 2017 interview with The Cut. “There was one part where I was shooting the gun to the ground and I screamed because it’s so loud and it shakes and it’s so heavy. My wrist was hurting by the end. I’m just so weak.”

Early in the series, Ruth is pressured into attempting to murder Marty (Jason Bateman) at his dock. As a trial run, she tries her planned method on a mouse. The only problem was that Julia Garner is intensely afraid of mice, to the point that the hand holding the mouse underwater in the scene isn’t even hers.

“I can’t even watch Ratatouille! It’s a cartoon rat, but it’s gross. It cooks. That’s disgusting,” the Ozark star explained. Garner was so uncomfortable in her attempts to hold the mouse by the tail that she had a panic attack and they used a hand double instead.

“They kept saying: ‘It’s not a big deal. It’s like a phone charger, like spaghetti,'” she continued. “And I’m like, I’m never going to charge my phone again.”