Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel greeted a packed audience of Television Academy members at Raleigh Studios on Sunday June 5th in Los Angeles. The Ozark FYSEE event screened the series’ finale ahead of a near hour long panel with the cast and creative team behind Netflix’s multiple Emmy nominated drama.
Lead actor, producer, and director Jason Bateman and actress Julia Garner represented the main cast as Laura Linney had to send her regrets via a recorded message. Both Bateman and Garner are previous Emmy winners for their work on the series.
Kimmel pushed showrunner and series finale writer Chris Mundy on the chances that Jonah Byrde (Skylar Gaertner) fired the shotgun at Wendy Byrde (Laura Linney) or the cookie jar instead of the ex-cop —named Mel— in the show’s final moments. “To me it’s pretty unambiguous, I think he shot Mel and Mel is dead,” Mundy said with a laugh.
Bateman and Mundy talked about Bateman’s early fears that the show couldn’t be funny because of his extensive background in comedy. “I was so self-conscious about my comedy baggage that I would ask Chris to take things out that were funny.” Bateman said. “As I got more confident, I was good with adding that back.”
“It was the beginning of season two when you said that and it was just starting to get darker,” Mundy joked in response.
Production designer David J. Bomba loved the challenge of building the riverboat gambling casino for the Byrde family in season two. “The worst part was knocking it down at the end of production,” Bomba said.
For Garner, she described meditating as her Ruth Langmore character and it being a key part of her acting process. The Emmy winning actress had just finishing a meditation last year when it came to her that she would die in the final season.
Then a phone call came from Chris Mundy a few minutes later. “I told Chris that I was getting killed off, and he said, ‘Who told you?’” Garner recalled. Mundy was very open on the panel about the tug of war over Ruth’s fate, saying that heated arguments were constant in the writers room until he finally put the subject to bed.
The final season offered a surprise cameo from Killer Mike, which Mundy revealed was decided very early in the writing process. However, getting the necessary song rights for the episode in question was a much long process between Chris Mundy and music supervision Gabe Hilfer. “Gabe was working on the rights to the Nas songs for a year,” Mundy said.
“There are lots of legal issues with samples used in 1990s hiphop and you have to peel a lot of layers back,” Hilfer shared. Bateman then highlighted Chris Mundy’s history as a writer for The Rolling Stone magazine and his deep appreciation for music and its placement in the show.
For editor Cindy Mollo, Kimmel asked about her favorite moments cutting the series. Mollo, who has previously been nominated for her work on Ozark, zeroed in on two moments. The first being Ruth’s (Julia Garner) killing of Javi this season. In her previous years on the show, Mollo felt strongest about when Marty (Jason Bateman) realizes that he has to kill Mason, the unhinged pastor, in order to save Wendy (Laura Linney).
Cinematographer Shawn Kim was asked about lighting when he shot the series’ final episodes, and Kimmel slid in a joke about the imperceptible Night King battle in Game of Thrones’ final season. “We basically block out the sun and relight the scene so we have full control,” Kim said. “It required a hyper level of control amid the Georgia weather and thirteen months in production.”