‘Ozark’ Star Julia Garner Reveals the Surprising Inspiration for Ruth’s Scream

by Allison Hambrick

Ozark actress Julia Garner opened up about the unusual origin of her character’s intense scream and how a certain athlete influenced her. In an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, she discussed her memorable turn on the hit Netflix series.

“I’m very visual and I get inspired from different things, and I really kind of just wanted the spirit of a Caravaggio painting, and the darkness,” Garner explained “And, you know, I feel like Caravaggio paints intensity and chaos so well, but that wasn’t really doing [it]. I got inspired by it, but there was still something missing. And then I realized Mike Tyson is also another inspiration for me.”

Garner referred specifically to Mike Tyson’s infamous match against Evander Holyfield, in which the former bit off the latter’s ear. She said, in reference to a photo from the match: “Mike Tyson – this face – could be a Caravaggio painting. I think he was very mad there, too.” 

Ruth’s iconic scream came after a moment when her character lost her cousin and swore revenge. Her cry of anguish had to be convincing, and Garner delivered.

Why is Ozark So Blue?

On a show as dark as Ozark, creating the right atmosphere is essential. Performances, cinematography, and writing all factor in differently. According to head cinematographer Ben Kutchins, one of the key goals in designing how Ozark felt was creating a distinctive look for the show.

“I think both Jason Bateman and I wanted to do something that was unique and unique to ‘Ozark’ that created a distinct look,” Kutchins, who has won two Emmys for his work, said. “From the beginning, we really [tried to make bold choices]. And I think it stood out in the way that we tell stories, the way that we color correct the episodes, the way that we move the camera, and the way that the camera relates to the characters.”

Kutchins cited two primary influences for his work on the series. The first is Gordon Willis’s 1971 film Klute, and the other is David Michod’s 2010 movie “Animal Kingdom.”

The cinematographer creates the blue effect through both practical effects and editing. While filming, the camera is adjusted to have a heavier cyan filter, and lighting focuses on specific angles to create the desired color. Afterward, editors make sure that the blues match what the showrunner is looking for.

Additionally, Hutchins explained that the creative choice reflects the narrative.

“At every corner there’s a new adversary and a new puzzle to be solved. There’s a new riddle,” Hutchins said. “For me, the really interesting thing that we lean into in making a show that’s this dark is like what is in the shadows over there? Is there somebody lurking in the shadows? And what’s beneath the surface of the lake? What’s that thing that’s just beneath the surface of the story that’s terrifying the audience?”