HomeEntertainment‘Ozark’ Star Katrina Lenk Reveals Her Character’s ‘Back Story’ Is ‘Based on True Events’

‘Ozark’ Star Katrina Lenk Reveals Her Character’s ‘Back Story’ Is ‘Based on True Events’

by Lauren Boisvert
(Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions )

On “Ozark,” Katrina Lenk plays Clare Shaw. She’s a pharmaceutical executive struggling to keep her family’s company afloat in the midst of a scandal. Sound familiar? That’s because Clare’s backstory is partially based on true events. “Ozark” is known for its dark storylines–according to Jason Bateman who said “the blood spigot does not ever get turned off”–and this time it drew from reality.

In conversation with Variety, Katrina Lenk shared the origin of Clare’s backstory. When asked if her situation was based on the Sackler family of Purdue Pharma, Lenk replied with a simple, “Yes.” She continued, “A lot of the back story is based on true events, so I did a deep dive into what actually was happening in the opioid crisis and with the Sacklers.”

Purdue Pharma introduced OxyContin to the mainstream in 1996, which is a reformulated version of oxycodone. OxyContin and oxycodone are the two main suspects in the U.S. opioid crisis. Many blame the Sackler family for their role in marketing the drug. In 2019, the family faced upwards of 1,600 lawsuits from various U.S. states and counties.

On “Ozark,” Clare Shaw is the CEO of Shaw Medical Solutions after her father nearly brought the company to its knees. She strives for ethical practices, and presents this persona to the media. Wendy meets with her about getting her on the board of her foundation; it’s trying to fight the opioid crisis and build rehabilitation centers. Clare initially refuses the offer; but once Marty gives her the rundown on her finances, and offers to provide her with raw (illegal) materials for her pharmaceuticals, Clare reluctantly agrees.

Lenk continued, “But it goes beyond [the Sacklers]. The whole pharmaceutical industry is really a part of it,” she said, speaking of the opioid crisis in the U.S. It will be interesting to see if Clare keeps her end of the bargain with the Byrdes. Will she stay loyal, or will her conscience will get the better of her?

Jason Bateman Says ‘Ozark’s Ending Will Be ‘Elegant’

Jason Bateman spoke recently with Entertainment Weekly along with his co-stars; he mentioned that this half of “Ozark” will provide fans with a “satisfying ending.”

“I just think it ends in such a — pardon the term — elegant way, consistent with the measured approach [his character, Marty] took to all of these extraordinary circumstances,” said Bateman. “In other words, I think it would have been easy to really push the TNT lever down and have some big, huge, forced crescendo at the end. It’s only a spoiler to say that it’s not that. It’s much more consistent with our show, where the ending has a very satisfying resolution, but it doesn’t smack you in the face.”

If “Ozark” is anything, it’s consistent while still surprising us at every turn. You could say it’s consistently surprising. I think, whatever happens to the Byrdes at the end of season 4, it’ll be well deserved, relevant, and satisfying for the audience. Fingers crossed.