‘Ozark’: Laura Linney Says She Was Completely Forced Into Directing By Co-Star Jason Bateman

by Emily Morgan

Laura Linney is much more than her cunning character on the hit Netflix series “Ozark.” She’s a four-time Emmy Award winner known for her killer acting, directing, and producing. 

Yet, while she had no problem playing the part of the Byrde’s matriarch, Wendy, it took a little bit of coercion from her cast member to get her in the director’s chair. According to Linney, Jason Bateman demanded that this on-screen wife and criminal partner step away from the camera. Despite Linney’s reluctance, he wanted her to direct an episode in the show’s fourth and final season.

“I was completely forced into directing by Jason Bateman and Patrick Markey,” she said in an interview about directing. She’s the director in the episode titled “Pound of Fresh and Still Kickin’.” 

“The two of them had been on a mission from Season 1 to get me to direct. I had always very politely said, “Thanks. No, thanks.” They pushed me very hard to do it. My manager called before we started the last season, and she said, “If you don’t do this, I’m going to fire you.”

She continued, saying that her colleagues kept telling her she had to take on the job. “You’ll never have this opportunity again, surrounded by people who support you as much as these people do,” they empathically told Linney.

Jason Bateman speaks highly of his ‘Ozark’ costar

Additionally, Bateman also wanted to make Wendy’s character much more than a cliche housewife. During an interview, he spoke about making sure Linney gets every chance she’s given. 

“You’re really being foolish if you don’t give Laura Linney as much work as possible inside of any show she’s a part of,” he said in an interview with The Ringer. According to Bateman, he felt giving her the role of a traditional wife would be a waste considering all of her talents. 

The acclaimed drama, which recently ended, was created for Netflix by Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams. The plot surrounds financial advisor Marty Byrde, played by Bateman, and his wife Wendy, played by Linney. They drag their children Charlotte and Jonah into their mess when they move them from Chicago to the Missouri Ozarks. Once there, where they must launder money to pay back a drug cartel. 

The show’s highly anticipated Season 4 returned for viewers in two parts on January 21. Once on Netflix, it quickly climbed to the number one spot in the US’s Top 10 ranking of shows.

Beyond her time on “Ozark,” Laura Linney is an accomplished actor with several accolades to her name. The Academy Awards nominated her for an Oscar for her performances in You Can Count On MeKinsey, and The Savages. She has also won four Emmys, two Golden Globes, and has a BAFTA nomination.