“Hi Erik, this is Laura Linney calling…”
It’s every interviewer’s worst nightmare. You get to talk to someone whose work you’ve respected and admired for decades, they end up being kind and gracious and charming in the highest degrees. You get comfortable in your banter, shooting questions from the hip as one does in a conversational interview and don’t think to look at your recorder while enraptured in your phone call. You end your chat with a kind goodbye and look at your phone. Only five minutes have recorded and for some unknown reason, it stopped before the official interview even started. Those five minutes aren’t of me and Laura Linney talking about Ozark or her career. It’s her asking me how I am and how I’m managing during the earlier stages of sheltering in place. We talk about my elderly grandmother whose husband had just died a month before and trying to maintain her spirits while having to be physically distant. We talk about her mother and the pain of being careful and thoughtful to her health and needs but doing so in a state of spatial separation.
It actually started with a missed phone call. Usually a publicist will call me and then patch the actor or director or cinematographer or makeup artist in via conference call. I was running around, trying to get my kid out of the office, make sure I had water so I didn’t choke and cough during the interviewer and as luck would have it, I missed a call. From Laura Linney. I listened to my voicemail and it started as it says above, “Hi Erik, this is Laura Linney calling” and in understandable reaction, my soul briefly left my body and looked down on me in shame. Not a moment later, phone in hand, it rings again and there she is. I apologize for missing the call, she laughs it off and we start to chat.
Cut to now where the gracious Ms. Linney accepted a shortened, email version of my questions and below is a zippy version of that interview. My apologies to my readers for its shortness and of course to Laura Linney for having to do it over but imagine for a moment that I’m asking these questions, and then hitting mute every few minutes to collect myself.
Some have likened Wendy to Lady MacBeth, which almost feels like a backhanded compliment. How would you describe Wendy’s journey from the beginning of the series to now?
I think she is less afraid of her own instincts now, and that her primal desire to not just survive, but to succeed, is fueling her every move. I also think she less afraid of who she is inherently, and is unearthing old behavior from her past. There is a reason Wendy knew how to fling a possum in Season 1…
Marriage counseling is a factor for Wendy and Marty in the third season. How much of it do you think is aiming for true reconciliation vs being a power struggle over the business and surviving day to day?
I think it is a combination of both. And it points to their mutual fear that everything may fall apart..and fall apart quickly…and that the choices they make are truly a matter of life and death. They have to be on the same page in order to survive.
There seems to be a common thread in your career of intense brother/sister storylines, a Laura lineage, if you will, and now with the introduction of Wendy’s brother Ben. I’d love to hear about how you and Tom Pelphrey worked together to create such a rich sibling dynamic.
Tom Pelphrey was such a joy to work with, and to be around, that it was very easy to feel familial with him. We work in similar ways, and we just trusted each other instantly. And that is the one commonality I have had with all of my cinematic brothers is a real sense of trust. I’m very lucky.
Wendy’s visit to their former home was a poignant moment of what their life was before. Do you think there’s a breaking point for Wendy?
I have no idea what’s in store for Wendy. I could see her going in any of a dozen different directions. I’ll just have to wait and see where our writers and Chris Mundy (our showrunner) send her. Whichever way she goes…I know it will be interesting….
I keep coming back to your face at the Emmys last year when Jason Bateman won for directing (which was only matched by his shock). First, what a GREAT moment and deserved win but this year he also helms the first two episodes, which are extraordinary. How is working with him on both sides of the camera?
Jason is wildly talented, and his work on Ozark is a culmination of a lifetime in this business. We were all over the moon when he won this Emmy. It was a great moment. And I am so glad I there…Julia and I just couldn’t contain ourselves…
Did you know that on your imdb page under ‘Personal Details’ it says ‘Also known as Laura Fucking Linney’?
I know. Isn’t that fun? Thank you John Oliver!
Season 3 of Ozark is currently streaming exclusively on Netflix.