10 Facts About Netflix's Ozark

Netflix
Netflix

Getting on the wrong side of the wrong people is a classic mistake, but Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) went ahead and did it anyway—and dragged his family along for the ride. The Netflix series Ozark is a bit like Breaking Bad ... if Walter White had come clean about making drugs early on, and Skyler had been completely on board.

It’s dark and twisty and every success promises a failure. Byrde flees Chicago to get away from a drug cartel, only to run into a drug cartel in his new Missouri home. If that kind of thing happens, you’ve gotta assume you’re the problem.

Here are 10 facts about the latest show about a troubled middle-class white dude, which earned Jason Bateman a pair of Emmy nominations—one for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and one for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (for the episode titled "The Toll")—just ahead of its second season premiere.

1. SYMBOLS HIDDEN IN THE “O” OF THE TITLE CARD FORESHADOW THE EPISODE.

Emerging from the brooding title music, the show teases what you’re about to see with icons embedded in the title’s first letter. A spilled oil drum, a gun, a man on his knees. A rat, a swimming pool ladder, a child’s playground. Designed by Fred Davis and Kellerhouse, the title cards are an ingenious tool in an era where fans are desperate to catch and solve narrative clues. This show primes that pump and offers fans something to search for.

2. THE SHOW’S CO-CREATOR CRAFTED THE SHOW WITH HIS OWN MEMORIES.

Missouri native and show co-creator Bill Dubuque chose to set it at Lake of the Ozarks because he worked there as a teenager for the Alhonna Resort and Marina. He has a deep love for the place, even if his characters despair at moving to the “Redneck Riviera."

3. THE PRODUCTION LEARNED HOW TO LAUNDER MONEY FROM THE FBI.

Aside from knowing which side of the dock to approach in your boat, the writers needed to develop an understanding of how money laundering works in real life so they could create a reasonable facsimile in their fictional world. 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,” writer Chris Mundy said.

4. JULIA GARNER NEEDED A HAND DOUBLE.

Charlie Tahan, Julia Garner, and Carson Holmes in 'Ozark'
Jackson Davis, Netflix

Julia Garner plays incipient criminal genius Ruth Langmore with grit and tenacity, but she had to call for backup during a scene involving a mouse because she hates rodents. She was supposed to pick up a mouse and drop it into some water, but she was on the verge of a panic attack, so they got a hand double to do it. “The whole crew was laughing at me,” she told W Magazine. “It was so embarrassing, and I couldn’t even lift it."

5. JASON BATEMAN FEELS BAD ABOUT KILLING OFF CHARACTERS.

Finally, a TV producer who admits to feeling what we all feel. The shocking deaths that keep us hooked to a show are also lamentable. It’s safe to say we miss some characters when they’re gone, and Bateman gets that. “Selfishly, you want everyone to stick around," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "We had a really great group of actors. It’s terrible when these people have to go, but that’s the trade-off of doing these kinds of shows. You have to be willing to make big moves because that’s where everything is at nowadays."

6. NEITHER LEAD WAS INTERESTED IN STARRING IN A TELEVISION SERIES.

Laura Linney wasn’t interested in doing a series, but she was intrigued because of Bateman’s involvement and the possibility of watching him stretch his acting range. But Bateman almost wasn’t on board because he, too, was uninterested in doing another series when the project came to him. He became a producer on Ozark and directed four episodes (originally he was set to direct all of them until a scheduling conflict popped up) because joining the show meant postponing a foray into feature film directing. The pilot episode—and the chance to do some directing—convinced him to join.

7. THEY ATTEMPTED TO GET PETER MULLAN ON BOARD BEFORE THERE WAS EVEN A SCRIPT.

Peter Mullan and Jason Bateman in 'Ozark'
Netflix

Peter Mullan is a fierce character actor—not to mention a writer and director—known for My Name is Joe and smaller, powerful roles like the fascist guard in Children of Men and the wealthy owner of Delos on Westworld. Bateman desperately wanted to cast Mullan in Ozark after seeing him in Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake, so he and the show's creators “aggressively pursued” Mullan before they’d even finished the script.

8. THERE’S STILL MONEY IN THE BANANA STAND.

Since it covered so much ground and made so many references of its own, it’s probably impossible for Bateman to be involved in anything without noticing some Arrested Development nods. For Ozark, that includes Marty stuffing palates of cash into the walls of the resort (sans banana stand) and waxing intellectual about maritime law (all aboard the Queen Mary!).

9. LAURA LINNEY PUSHED TO MAKE HER CHARACTER MORE THAN “JUST A WIFE.”

Linney was definitely drawn to the script when she read it, even though she saw her potential character as one that needed more dimensions. There was unrealized potential there because Wendy was “just a wife,” defined entirely by her relationship to Marty. So, she took her concerns to Bateman, who agreed they needed to flesh the character out, and now Wendy is a monster all her own.

10. THE OWNER OF THE REAL-LIFE RESORT HOPES PEOPLE REALIZE THE SHOW IS A PIECE OF FICTION.

Is a popular show set in your neck of the lake good for tourism? Shirley Gross-Russel hopes so. Her family owns the resort where Ozark is set (the same one where Dubuque worked at as a teen), and although it may not be everyone’s cup of tea to be associated with a story about drug-running, money laundering, and death, Gross-Russel is banking on people knowing that a TV show is just a TV show. Hopefully guests won’t go ripping the walls apart looking for hidden cash.

George R.R. Martin Doesn't Think Game of Thrones Was 'Very Good' For His Writing Process

Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

No one seems to have escaped the fan fury over the finals season of Game of Thrones. While likely no one got it quite as bad as showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, even author George R.R. Martin—who wrote A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series upon which the show is based, faced backlash surrounding the HBO hit. The volatile reaction from fans has apparently taken a toll on both Martin's writing and personal life.

In an interview with The Guardian, the acclaimed author said he's sticking with his original plan for the last two books, explaining that the show will not impact them. “You can’t please everybody, so you’ve got to please yourself,” he stated.

He went on to explain how even his personal life has taken a negative turn because of the show. “I can’t go into a bookstore any more, and that used to be my favorite thing to do in the world,” Martin said. “To go in and wander from stack to stack, take down some books, read a little, leave with a big stack of things I’d never heard of when I came in. Now when I go to a bookstore, I get recognized within 10 minutes and there’s a crowd around me. So you gain a lot but you also lose things.”

While fans of the book series are fully aware of the author's struggle to finish the final two installments, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring, Martin admitted that part of the delay has been a result of the HBO series, and fans' reaction to it.

“I don’t think [the series] was very good for me,” Martin said. “The very thing that should have speeded me up actually slowed me down. Every day I sat down to write and even if I had a good day … I’d feel terrible because I’d be thinking: ‘My God, I have to finish the book. I’ve only written four pages when I should have written 40.'"

Still, Martin has sworn that the books will get finished ... he just won't promise when.

[h/t The Guardian]

Attention Movie Geeks: Cinephile Is the Card Game You Need Right Now

Cinephile/Amazon
Cinephile/Amazon

If you’ve got decades worth of movie trivia up in your head but nowhere to show it off, Cinephile: A Card Game just may be your perfect outlet. Created by writer, art director, and movie expert Cory Everett, with illustrations by Steve Isaacs, this game aims to test the mettle of any film aficionado with five different play types that are designed for different skill and difficulty levels.

For players looking for a more casual experience, Cinephile offers a game variety called Filmography, where you simply have to name more movies that a given actor has appeared in than your opponent. For those who really want to test their knowledge of the silver screen, there’s the most challenging game type, Six Degrees, which plays like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, with the player who finds the fewest number of degrees between two actors getting the win.

When you choose actors for Six Degrees, you’ll do so using the beautifully illustrated cards that come with the game, featuring Hollywood A-listers past and present in some of their most memorable roles. You’ve got no-brainers like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill (2003) and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall (1990) alongside cult favorites like Bill Murray from 2004's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and Jeff Goldblum in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984). Of course, being a game designed for the true film buff, you’ll also get some deeper cuts like Helen Mirren from 1990’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover and Sean Connery in 1974's Zardoz. There are 150 cards in all, with expansion packs on the way.

Cinephile is a labor of love for Everett and Isaacs, who originally got this project off the ground via Kickstarter, where they raised more than $20,000. Now it’s being published on a wider scale by Clarkson Potter, a Penguin Random House group. You can pre-order your copy from Amazon now for $20 before its August 27 release date.

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