Linney says that her character in Ozark acts the way that she does in order to save and protect her family, which shouldn’t make her a villain.
Laura Linney says she isn’t sure if she views her Ozark character, Wendy Byrde, as a villain. The hit crime drama series premiered on Netflix in 2017 and tells the story of a married couple who relocate their family to the Lake of the Ozarks in order to launder money, getting involved with local criminals and the Kansas City Mafia along the way. Linney portrays Wendy, the wife of self-employed financial advisor Marty Byrde, who, as the show progresses, becomes more of a role player in the cartel system, making decisions without her husband and conversing with Omar Navarro on occasion, despite the danger it puts her family in. Throughout Ozark’s duration, the series received praise from critics, with Linney’s performance drawing admiration and earning the actress Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.
The fourth and final season of Ozark was split into two parts, the first of which was released on January 21, 2022. Wendy’s position as a lobbyist and her political strategies have saved her family a number of times, but undercutting Marty has threatened their operations, as well as their family’s dynamic. She also bears responsibility for her brother’s death, and the first half of season 4 saw Wendy become more coldblooded in her actions, to the extent that an antagonist like Omar Navarro was able to see a piece of himself reflected in her. The one aspect of her nature that remains unflinching though is her desire to keep her family safe, but in trying to do so, Wendy might make the Byrde’s seem more villainous than they are.
Now, in an interview with GQ, Linney is revealing that she does not see Wendy as a villain. She states that while she might not behave well, she does not think of the character as a true antagonist. She says that when Wendy is first introduced in Ozark, she was at a point where she worked hard to become something different than where she came from, but that the Ozarks put her in a state that felt too familiar. Continuing, she notes that she became reactive to the danger and possible mental illness she’s experiencing, which causes her to fall in line with opposing morals, adding that she is not very mature either. Read Linney’s response when asked if it is fair to call Wendy a villain below:
“I don’t know if she’s the villain. She certainly does not behave well (laughs.) It is not a character who you aspire to be, I hope. I don’t know if she’s the villain because she’s not trying to hurt her family. She’s trying to save her family. I think if she were actively, intentionally trying to derail her family then she would be a real villain. Normally, the villain is the person who goes after the protagonist, tries to thwart the protagonist. That’s not who she is. I don’t know quite what she is but she’s not that.”
The final episodes of season 4 are expected to premiere sometime this year, and star, Alfonso Herrera says that they are mind-blowing. Given Ozark‘s dark tone and its proclivity to include big deaths and startling twists, how Wendy’s actions could affect her family in the end are yet to be seen. Linney states that the character will do anything to keep her family safe, and audiences know that to be true, but as she ventures further into politics, and with her son getting involved with the competition, there are still a lot of scenarios that could see her resorting to more nefarious tactics.
It will be interesting to see how the series decides to end its run, and if Wendy and her family make it out intact. The Byrde’s are in danger, and with part 2 of Ozark‘s final episodes approaching, Wendy can potentially make things better or worse for them. Fans of the show will find out soon enough how accurate Linney’s reflection is and how Wendy’s character arc concludes when Ozark returns to Netflix for its series finale.
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