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Ozark’s Big Bad: Laura Linney on Wendy Byrde’s Journey to the Dark Side and Season Four


Ozark’s Big Bad: Laura Linney on Wendy Byrde’s Journey to the Dark Side and Season Four

And she’s not very mature. She’s not. I loved playing that. She’s shrewd and she’s smart, but she’s not mature. And she’s not evolved.

How so? The way she overreacts to things?

Yeah! Absolutely. The anger management issues. Entitlement issues. Jealousy. Wanting things the way she wants them. Losing perspective completely.

She presents herself as this political animal, this creature who knows how to manipulate people, but that’s often just a presentation and not the truth.

I think she knows how to survive. [She’s] someone in the political arena who doesn’t come from an academic background, who doesn’t come from a historical background, who comes from someone who’s trying to survive, who believes there is something better for everybody. I think she really does believe that. It’s just her. She doesn’t have the tools to do it in an ethical, dignified way. She does it in a messy, hot mess, really warped way.

I think some people see her as calculated, but she’s so often making mistakes that come in moments in which she did not stop to calculate.

Absolutely. She’s reactive. Her instincts are so good—they’re shrewd. They’re not the best choices, but they work. And she doesn’t think deeply—she acts. She’s primal that way. She starts to trust her own power. “I’m right. It might be messy and awful, but I’m right. I know I’m right.” And she is right most of the time.

That happens pretty early in the run of the show.

That’s right.

How long ago did you know Wendy’s arc, from the beginning to where she is now?

Chris Mundy [Ozark’s showrunner] and I talked early on. When you’re playing the wife of the main character of the show, it can be wonderful or there can be not a whole lot to play. I didn’t care how big my part was, I just wanted to have something that I could really play that would help move the narrative of the story forward. Chris and I talked a lot about identity. I think at the time, I was questioning that—who are we as Americans? Who are we? As an American citizen, who am I? Who did I think I was? Who did I want to be?

And then I started thinking about that…

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