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.

10 Amazing Facts About Stan Lee

BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

Comic book legend Stan Lee’s life was always an open book. The co-creator of some of the greatest superheroes and most beloved stories of all time, Lee—who passed away on November 12 at the age of 95—became just as mythical and larger-than-life as the characters in the panels. In 2015, around the time of Marvel’s 75th anniversary, Lee had the idea to reflect on his own life, as he said, “in the one form it has never been depicted, as a comic book … or if you prefer, a graphic memoir.”

The result, published by the Touchstone imprint of Simon & Schuster in 2015, was Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir—which was written by Lee with Peter David and features artwork by cartoonist and illustrator Colleen Doran. Here are 10 things we learned about Lee.

1. HIS WIFE WAS ALSO HIS BARBER.

As a bit of a throwaway fact, Stanley Martin Lieber (Stan Lee) revealed the secret of his slicked back mane on the second page of his memoir. “My whole adult life, I’ve never been to a barber,” he wrote. “Joanie always cuts my hair.”

2. HIS CONFIDENCE CAME FROM HIS MOTHER.

Lee wrote that as a child he loved to read books by Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and others, and his mother often watched him read: “I probably got my self-confidence from the fact that my mother thought everything I did was brilliant.”

3. YOUNG STAN LEE WROTE OBITUARIES.

Before writing about the fantastic lives of fictional characters, Lee wrote antemortem obituaries for celebrities at an undisclosed news office in New York. He said that he eventually quit that job because it was too “depressing.”

4. CAPTAIN AMERICA WAS HIS FIRST BIG BREAK.

A week into his job at Timely Comics, Lee got the opportunity to write a two-page Captain America comic. He wrote it under the pen name Stan Lee (which became his legal name) and titled it "Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge." His first full comic script would come in Captain America Issue 5, published August 1, 1941.

5. HE WROTE TRAINING FILMS FOR THE ARMY WITH DR. SEUSS.

After being transferred from the army’s Signal Corps in New Jersey, Lee worked as a playwright in the Training Film Division in Queens with eight other men, including a few who went on to be very famous: Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Saroyan, cartoonist Charles Addams (creator of The Addams Family), director Frank Capra (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington [1939] and It’s a Wonderful Life [1946]) and Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

6. HE DEFIED THE COMICS CODE AUTHORITY WITH AN ANTI-DRUG COMIC.

In 1971, Lee received a letter from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare asking him to put an anti-drug message in one of his books. He came up with a Spider-Man story that involved his best friend Harry abusing pills because of a break-up. The CCA would not approve the story with their seal because of the mention of drugs, but Lee convinced his publisher, Martin Goodman, to run the comic anyway.

7. AN ISSUE AT THE PRINTERS TURNED THE HULK GREEN.

The character was supposed to be gray, but according to Lee, the printer had a hard time keeping the color consistent. “So as of issue #2,” Lee wrote, “with no explanation, he turned green.”

8. HIS WIFE DESTROYED HIS PRIZED TYPEWRITER.

According to Lee, during an argument, Joanie destroyed the typewriter he used to write the first issues for characters including Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four. “This happened before eBay," he wrote. "Too bad. I could’ve auctioned the parts and made a mint.”

9. A FIRE DESTROYED HIS INTERVIEWS AND LECTURES.

When Lee moved his family to Los Angeles, he set up a studio in Van Nuys where he stored videotapes of his talks and interviews, along with a commissioned bust of his wife. The building was lost to a blaze that the fire department believed was arson, but no one was ever charged with the crime.

10. HIS FAVORITE MARVEL FILM CAMEO WAS BASED ON ONE FROM THE COMICS.

Beginning with the first Spider-Man film in 2002, Stan Lee has made quick cameos in Marvel films as a service to the fans. He said that his appearance in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) was inspired by the story of Reed and Sue Richards’ wedding in Fantastic Four Annual Volume 1 #3, in which he and artist/writer Jack Kirby attempt to crash the ceremony but are thwarted.

A version of this story ran in 2015.

JK Rowling Reveals the Sweet Reason Why She Wrote Fantastic Beasts

Angela Weiss, AFP/Getty Images
Angela Weiss, AFP/Getty Images

With the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald just a week away, ​JK Rowling is reflecting on her time writing the book that inspired the first film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and why she decided to expand on the Wizarding World she had created with the Harry Potter series.

While on the red carpet for the premiere of ​The Crimes of Grindelwald in Paris last week, Rowling spoke about how appreciative she is of the Harry Potter fandom that allows her to keep writing books and films. She also revealed the reason why she wanted to continue past the original series and write these movies: Potterheads!

"This fandom is the most remarkable in the world, for me, obviously," Rowling said. "Their loyalty and their passion for these stories really is the reason that I went back, because, without that, I don’t think I would have written these movies."

So there you have it, Potterheads: you really have yourselves to thank for the ​Potter universe's continued expansion. Keep it up and maybe Rowling will keep giving us more. In the meantime, Fantastic Beasts 2 hits theaters on November 16.

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