Scene Stealer: Julia Garner's Ruthless Ruth in Netflix's 'Ozark'

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Jackson Davis/Netflix

She Plays Ruth Langmore, the teen criminal mastermind who becomes a major complication for Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman), a money manager turned money launderer in the Missouri Ozarks. “She’s like a wounded dog about to attack,” Garner says. “But if you attack her, she’s going to start crying.” Ruth also serves as the de facto head of a family of trailer park ne’er-do-wells, passing down orders to her inept uncles in the absence of her father. “She does her own thing and outsmarts everyone.”

Where You’ve Seen Her You may have spotted her in Girls last year or opposite Lily Tomlin in the film Grandma, but Garner is probably best known for her role in The Americans, portraying Kimmy, the lovelorn teenager that Philip (Matthew Rhys) has been toying with since Season 3. And Garner’s pretty sure she’ll be back for the final season in 2018 (“Well, I’m not dead on the show,” she jokes).

Roush Review: 'Ozark' Evokes Some of TV's Finest-Ever Dramas

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Jason Bateman and Laura Linney are terrific in this new Netflix drama

Why We Love Her She may look like Goldilocks with those doll-like curls, but the 23-year-old has taken on some pretty intense roles in her brief career. “I’m starting to question my personality,” Garner says, laughing. “Am I intense?” As Ruth, she’s playing several layers at once, juggling the character’s cons and manipulations as well as some genuine feelings. “Everything that comes out of her mouth is like a double message,” Garner explains. “There’s always a [hidden] motivation.”

Daddy Dearest Garner doesn’t mince words about what makes her Ozark character tick: “Ruth has daddy issues, for sure.” That might be why she’s drawn to Marty, a dynamic that echoes Kimmy’s relationship with Philip on The Americans. There’s a hint of the same uncomfortable sexual tension, but while Philip is manipulating Kimmy, Marty acknowledges Ruth’s potential. “He quickly learns that she’s smart,” Garner says. “She really respects him and he acknowledges her. And I don’t think she’s used to that from anyone.”

Ozark, Now Streaming, Netflix

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This article also appeared in the Aug. 7–20 issue of TV Guide Magazine

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