25 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘Ozark’

On Friday April 29, Netflix dropped the final seven episodes of Ozark, which means it’s finally time to bid goodbye to Marty (Jason Bateman), Wendy (Laura Linney), Ruth (Julia Garner) and the rest of the crazy characters who have helped make the crime drama one of the very best – and most addictive – shows on television.

The first season was released on July 21, 2017; and If you haven’t watched all 44 episodes, we won’t spoil the series ending. But, now that Ozark has come to a dramatic close we have rounded up 25 surprising things that you probably didn’t know about the hit Netflix series.

1. Show co-creator Bill Dubuque used to work on the Lake of the Ozarks
Bill Dubuque was born in St. Louis, Missouri and definitely knows a lot about the actual Ozarks. As a teenager Dubuque worked for the Alhonna Resort and Marina and he has a deep love for the area… even if his characters are trying to get out of the “Redneck Riviera.”

2.The Ozarks are also referred to as the Ozark Mountains or Ozark plateau
The Ozarks form a physiographic and geologic highland region of the central United States, primarily in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and extreme southeastern Kansas. In total the Ozarks cover nearly 47,000 square miles.

3. Much of Ozark is actually filmed in Atlanta
While most Ozark’s scenes take place on the Lake of the Ozarks, much of the actual filming for the show is done in Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta filming locations include Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona, which are about an hour outside of Atlanta and where the water scenes are primarily shot.

4. There’s a real-life Ozark bar and grill
The success of the show created a tourist boom on the Lake of the Ozarks, leading to the creation of Marty Byrde’s Bar and Grill, where you can order Del’s Nachos, Ruth’s Smoked Wings and Wendy’s Philly Steak Sandwich.

5. Ozark’s production team learned how to launder money from the FBI
Before writing the series the writers needed to develop an understanding of how money laundering actually works in real life. Naturally, they called the feds. “We had an FBI agent who investigates money laundering come and sit down with us for a day so we could pick her brain,” showrunner Chris Mundy said.

6. The Byrde’s name has meaning
On the surface, the Byrde surname seems pretty unremarkable. However, Mundy revealed its hidden meaning at the virtual Paley Fest 2020:

“They had literally taken flight. But what we ended up doing in season one when we started talking about it, is talking about the Byrdes as an invasive species in the Ozarks. Look at everything, what would have… all the people that would still be alive, all the things that would still be OK, if these people had never picked up and moved here,” he said. “So we sort of used the analogy, took it from wherever Bill (Dubuque) was thinking and used it as that, as this invasive species in this area, and look at the sheer havoc they’ve wreaked – and at the same time, the tiniest bit of good every once in a while.”

7. Jason Bateman wasn’t originally interested
After his stint on Arrested Development, Jason Bateman wasn’t really that interested in doing another series. He did however agree to produce the show and when he was offered the chance to direct the pilot, he agreed to star in Ozark as well. Bateman ultimately directed nine different episodes (including the series finale) throughout the four seasons.

8. Laura Linney also wasn’t that interested
Laura Linney was also not all that interested in starring in a TV series. However she became intrigued when she learned of Bateman’s involvement as she wanted to observe him stretch his acting range.

9. Laura Linney pushed to make her character more than “just a wife”
However, Laura Linney originally had concerns about the character of Wendy Byrde and really pushed for her to be more complex. The actress feared the character would be “just a wife,” defined entirely by her relationship to Marty. She brought her concerns to Bateman who agreed to flesh the character out with the writing team. And, the rest is history. If you’ve finished season 4… she’s arguably the most complex character of the series.

10. Julia Garner didn’t think she’d get the role of Ruth Langmore
Julia Garner once explained how she auditioned in a small New York casting office where she was able to hear all the other actors trying out for the part. When it came time for her audition, she used the Missouri accent which she had developed for a previous movie role. Despite thinking that her audition hadn’t gone well, Garner got a call back a week later telling her the role of Ruth Langmore was hers. Garner admitted, “it worked out for me. I thought there was no chance.”

11. Ozark’s creators immediately tried to get Peter Mullan on board
Peter Mullan, who played Jacob Snell during season one and two, was “aggressively pursued” by the creators before they’d even had a finished script. They’d loved his work in Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake as well as his roles in Westworld, Children of Men and Tyrannosaur among other credits.

12. Charlotte could have been played by a reality star
Sofia Hublitz is incredible as Charlotte Byrde, but it turns out that Chloe Lukasiak, from the reality TV show Dance Moms, also auditioned for the part.

13. Episode clues appear in the title sequence
During the title sequence at the start of each episode you’ll see clues about what to expect from the episode within the letter ‘O’. Furthermore, the way these narrative clues are positioned within the ‘O’ spell out the rest of the word ‘Ozark’.

14. Why the show has a blue filter
One of the most prominent things about the aesthetic of Ozark is how blue it is. The signature blue and green filter in the show has some significance according to the production team. The most obvious reason of course is that the material itself is dark so it goes with the tone of the show. But, it is also intended to convey what is done in the shadows in Ozark‘s deep criminal underworld – the laundering, murder and shady dealings. The look of the show is also heavily influenced by films like Alan J. Pakula’s Klute (1971), David Michod’s Animal Kingdom (2012) and Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic (2000), according to cinematographer Ben Kutchins.

15. The show uses real-life Missouri phrases
To ground Ozark in reality and make it as authentic as possible, Chris Mundy used real phrases straight out of Missouri. He apparently has a book of Missouri phrases that he created himself, filled with everything that he has heard while in the Ozarks. He then tries to work as many of these phrases into the script as possible.

16. The Lake Of The Ozarks is actually man made
In fact, the Lake of the Ozarks is one of the largest man-made lakes in the United States.

17. Ozark may mean “Of Arkansas”
The word “Ozarks” is believed to be a toponym derived from the Anglicised pronunciation of “aux arcs”, the French abbreviation of “Aux Arcansas” meaning “of/at/to the Arkansas”. The Ozarks or The Ozark Mountains are a highland region of Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

18. Julia Garner is terrified of mice
The pivotal scene where Ruth picks up a mouse and drops it in the water in season one of Ozark almost gave the actress a panic attack. Julia Garner is deathly afraid of the rodents, and a double was used for this scene. “Even thinking about it makes me cringe,” she told Vulture while recalling the scene in 2018. “I couldn’t breathe… it was terrible.”

19. Marty always wears the same pair of New Balance sneakers
Fun fact: Jason Bateman wears the same New Balance sneakers in every show of movie he is in. That’s no different in Ozark, where Marty wears New Balance sneakers in every scene (usually the J. Crew x New Balance M1400DM)… except when he’s suited up.

20. The same Canadian Football Match keeps appearing on the TV
They don’t call it that on the show, but the characters on Ozark sure love Canadian football. In pretty much every scene where there’s a TV screen, they’re showing a Canadian Football League match – the same one. The game is Montreal Alouettes vs. Toronto Argos.

21. Tom Pelphrey studied mental illness for his role in season 3
The third season of Ozark introduced Ben Davis, Wendy’s brother. Tom Pelphrey delicately played the character who struggled with bipolar disorder and mental illness and it’s one of the best aspects of the third season. In order to properly portray the complexity of the character, Pelphrey took the role seriously and did the proper research.

22. The final season was filmed in 40 different locations
The just released second half of the final season was filmed in over 40 different locations. Locations were spread across the United States from coast to coast.

23. Ozark has received a lot of nominations and awards
Ozark has received a ton of accolades since its first season for all its achievement in television. Most notably, in 2019, Jason Bateman received the Emmy award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series and in 2019 and in 2020, Julia Garner earned the Emmy award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

Of course there will be more the nominations (and awards) to come as the award talley from the final season of Ozark has yet to be determined.

24. They’ve known since season two how it’s going to end
The showrunners have had the ending in mind as far back as season two, and even Jason Bateman knew that ending. He just didn’t know the specifics as to how the Byrde family gets there. Regarding the ending, in an interview with Indiewire, Jason Bateman had this to say:

“The specifics leading up to it, I didn’t really grind him on. But I was interested in the big question he has the opportunity to answer: Are they going to get away with it, or are they going to pay a bill? What does he want to message to the audience about the consequences of what the Byrdes have done — or lack thereof?”

25. Experts have deemed Ozark‘s money laundering schemes “both plausible and very creative”
Jumio, a tech-based company that uses AI to detect fraudsters, took a deep dive into some of the schemes that Marty and Wendy came up with in the first two seasons of Ozark, and were pretty impressed. In 2020, they created a report on how well their skills would hold up in real life and concluded that “the money laundering scenarios in Ozark are both plausible and very creative.”

Christopher Turner

AmongMen’s Editor-in-Chief is a well-respected fashion and style writer whose works have appeared in Fashionism, Fashion Television, MSN, DesignLines, the Kaboose Network, the Disney Family Network and Sun Media. He also has a collection of designer kicks that would make Imelda Marcos blush and lives in Toronto’s trendy east end. Follow him at: @Turnstylin.

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