February 17th marks the end of an era as Netflix held a special screening and panel conversation for their multiple Emmy winning series, “Ozark.” Netflix screened the series finale for to a packed audience of colleagues, press, and SAG members.
After the closing credits rolled, moderator Dave Karger from Turner Classic Movies introduced the trio of panelists including SAG Award®-Nominated actor Jason Bateman, SAG Award®-Nominated actress Julia Garner, and WGA Award-Nominated writer, showrunner, and executive producer Chris Mundy.
SAG Award®-Nominated actress Laura Linney was not able to attend, but she was there in spirit as the cast discussed all things in season four. The most talked about moment was the cast and crew saying goodbye to Julia Garner’s Ruth Langmore, a role that’s earned the young actress three Emmy awards over four season.
“I would wake up at four in the morning,” recalls Mundy of his difficult decision to kill Garner’s character. “It was the right decision for the show even though it’s still hard to talk about,” says Mundy.
Series star, director, and producer Jason Bateman echoed the sentiment that Ruth had to die in the final moments of the show. “The Byrdes have to pay a bill of some sort, but we still want kind of a happy ending,” says Bateman.
“I’m still wrapping my head around the show ending and that this is our last panel,” Garner shares.
Mundy went on to describe his feelings of the two central families featured in the series, the Byrdes and the Langmores. “The Byrdes are an invasive species and all the Langmores had been wiped out,” says Mundy. “It would’ve been false (regarding the ending) if there weren’t consequences. Ruth was a stronger character in death than if she were alive living off somewhere.”
For Julia Garner, she felt that Ruth’s death had already occurred on the series. “I feel like that was the best decision that Chris could have made because she already died, her soul died when Wyatt was killed,” says Garner.
Bateman directed the finale episode and he built the schedule so that Julia’s death scene as Ruth was the last thing that they filmed. “It was the last shot of the show at six in the morning and it was freezing,” Mundy recalled.
Both Chris Mundy and Laura Linney showed up to set for Garner’s swan song moment as Ruth. The cast had the wrap party scheduled for the next day, so they rushed to get home to get some sleep after Bateman called wrap.
When it came to discussing the impact of Ruth Langmore, Bateman and Mundy were showering Garner with praise for her interpretation of the role. Additionally, Bateman made sure to highlight the guiding hand of Mundy’s writing as showrunner from a series initially created and written by Bill Dubuque.
“What Bill (Dubuque) had put in those first two scripts, he laid a lot of the ground work for these characters to take off, but it wasn’t until we got Julia (cast in the role) and Chris (Mundy) came on and figured out what to do with this race horse,” says Bateman. “Between Chris’ work and his staff and Julia’s incredible talent, that character became the fulcrum for a lot of what we could do thematically and narratively throughout the show.”
“They both (Chris and Jason) saw something in me that I would never be able to see in myself,” says Garner. “And I thank you for that.”