How Laura Linney Increased Her Emmy Chances in ‘Ozark’ Season 2

Laura Linney has won Emmys for Wild Iris, John Adams, Frasier and The Big C. She was nominated for the first season of Ozark and she’s nominated again for season 2. Could season 2 ensure she wins for her Netflix series? It just might happen, since Ozark ramped up both the characters and the drama in its second season.

Laura Linney
Laura Linney attends the Netflix “Ozark” screening | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Netflix

Ozark is about Wendy (Linney) and Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman). Marty moved his family out to the Ozarks where he’s got to launder half a million dollars in drug money. Season 1 was only the beginning. Linney spoke at a Television Critics Association panel for season 2 of Ozark, giving some clues about how the second Emmy-nominated season created even more drama for the Byrds, and for Linney to play. 

Laura Linney asked for more on season 2 of ‘Ozark’

Doing a first season of a show can be very educational. Once Laura Linney got to know Wendy Byrde, she started asking the writers for certain material. 

“You also learn a lot during the filming of the season,” Linney said. “You learn a lot about your character, you learn a lot about each other. It wasn’t that I asked for things. It’s what I thought I saw the potential was for her and the sort of foundation of which to start. You hope to have a foundation that’s going to propel you forward and you’re going to be able to develop something slowly, but meticulously over, hopefully, a long period of time.”

Laura Linney in Ozark | Jessica Miglio/Netflix

Some of Linney’s questions constitute spoilers for season to come, but she had the foresight to confirm with Ozark’s creators.

“There were clues here and there that I saw that I just wanted to confirm with them was that the case. Is that what they were seeing? This was the dynamic I think maybe could be interesting.Does that work within the framework that you’ve all started? It also gives all of us an added ownership into the show. We all feel that we’re contributing in ways that, I think, on a lot of shows there’s not room for or there’s fear of. We have a showrunner who likes good ideas and is happy to talk with all of us.”

Laura Linney, Television Critics Association panel, 7/29/18

What makes Wendy Byrde an Emmy-worthy character

Having played many Emmy-winning characters before, Laura Linney has some insights into what makes Wendy Byrde special. 

Laura Linney
Laura Linney visits LinkedIn Studios | John Lamparski/Getty Images

“She’s a very instinctive person. She’s shrewd and she’s smart. She’s not the most emotionally mature human being. So she’s surprising that way, because she is so effective, but her decisions can be questionable, at best. And really, everything stems from survival. I mean, she’s trying to survive. So she goes to a very primal place in which to do that and she sees where there are spaces that are not being filled. She realizes she’s got to fill it. She’s got to do it fast. I think that’s what you see. And she becomes impatient.”

Laura Linney, Television Critics Association panel, 7/29/18

Laura Linney on her chemistry with Jason Bateman

Ozark probably wouldn’t be nominated for any Emmys were it not for the chemistry between Linney and Bateman.

Jason Bateman and Laura Linney
Jason Bateman and Laura Linney speak onstage during the Netflix “Ozark” screening & reception | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Netflix

“I think in order for chemistry to happen, chemistry in some ways while it is a noun is also a result of things. It’s the result of a sense of respect, safety, fun, freedom. Within that then, when you have those parameters, then you can really go to town. And because you feel safe and because you are genuinely curious and interested in the person that you’re looking at, it brings a sort of life to a scene, to the general overall. When you don’t have that, when you don’t feel safe, when you’re not interested, it’s hard work.”

Laura Linney, Television Critics Association panel, 7/29/18

‘Ozark’ is easy for Laura Linney

Laura Linney is no stranger to intense roles in film or television. Look at You Can Count on Me, The Savages or Kinsey. Linney said roles like that or Ozark are actually the easy ones.

Laura Linney in Ozark | Jessica Miglio | Netflix

“It’s always been fascinating to me when you’ll see a play or a movie or a television show where it’s very dramatic and very intense, but in a good way. People will come and go, ‘God, aren’t you exhausted?’ And then you’re like,’“No, it’s easy because all the pieces are in place.’ So even though some of even a lot of Ozark is so intense and so difficult, I find that we sort of fly through it effortlessly even though there’s a lot of work that goes into it because there’s so many things that are so appropriately calibrated. Between our production design and the cinematography and the actors and all of it, all of these things are in place for us and we sort of all hold hands, and sort of have a really good time doing it. So it’s a wonderful job.”

Laura Linney, Television Critics Association panel, 7/29/18

Laura Linney appreciates everyone who makes ‘Ozark’

The actors are not alone in Ozark. Linney, Bateman and Julia Garner may have the flashy nominations, but everyone works hard on Ozark. Indeed, cinematography and production design were also nominated in season 1 and casting, editing and sound mixing got nominations for season 2.

Laura Linney
Laura Linney attends the 73rd Annual Tony Awards | Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

“There’s no department that isn’t sort of admired in some way. I mean, we walk on set and A) we see the locations where we are. Then we see the production design. Then we see the casting. Then we get to say what we get to say. Then we get to see how our producers have dealt with the logistics and everything else that’s thrown their way, and then we get to see how Netflix supports us. You realize you’re sort of in a pot of honey. Like, we all feel like we fell into a pot of honey with this one. It’s fun work. It’s good work. It’s hard work. It’s challenging. It’s not always easy because it’s hard to execute. We’re not just lollygagging around being happy, in the land of the Lotus-eaters. But it is exciting and challenging in the best ways.”

Laura Linney, Television Critics Association panel, 7/29/18