What was the idea behind splitting the final season into two parts instead of pulling out with a full fifth season?
The thinking is really about the fact that we knew this would be our last season, so rather than doing our usual 10 episode season, we shot 14 and split it into two halves. So this half season is really like a full season and it all builds up to the finale, I think, that everyone was waiting for.
Can you tell us anything about how this all ends for Marty and Wendy?
Nope! Obviously, I can’t say anything other than I think the way we finish is awesome. I think everyone is going to be pretty happy by the end, at least I hope so! It really seems like the perfect way to end Marty’s story and resolve the situation he put his family in in the first season. A lot has happened for him and his family since then. These final episodes leading up to the finale will see Marty and Wendy having to make some very big decisions for their family. That’s all I can say.
The pandemic meant you couldn’t direct the opening episodes of this season, but you came back to direct the final episode. Tell us how it was.
Quite moving, but also gratifying. I feel so privileged to have been able to play this character and work with these people that it felt right to direct us.
Is it hard to both direct and act on a show like Ozark, especially for such a pivotal episode?
I really like. I’ve been acting for so long now that my interest in the camera kind of comes naturally. I always want to help behind the camera as an actor in any way I can. It’s just how I am and how I learned at a very young age. The staging feels natural to me and, playing along, I find it really useful. It’s like you can dictate how a scene unfolds on camera by making the other actors react to what you do or how you respond to them.
What do you think was the secret to the show’s incredible success?
I think it starts with the writers. They’ve done a phenomenal job creating and developing these characters over the seasons so far. And, generally speaking, it’s the amazing cast and crew I got to work with on this series.
They are so talented and it’s so nice to work with them. I will miss them very much. Plus, Ozark is a show with high stakes and huge risk, but it’s still about normal people. Marty is just a normal middle-aged guy caught up in this criminal underworld. That’s the appeal I think.
How have you enjoyed having Laura Linney as your on-screen wife over the past four seasons?
What can I say ? Laura is amazing. She’s an amazing actress and just a beautiful person. We get along so well, which is a good thing because there are times when, doing a show like this, I’ve seen more of my Ozark wife than my real wife!
A lot of people seemed to be binge-watching Ozark during quarantine. Was it something you were aware of at the time?
Anecdotally, yes, that appears to be the case. Either people were watching it anyway, or they were catching up on Netflix because someone might have suggested it to them. We certainly got a lot of viewers during that time. It’s humbling that it found such a huge following during a difficult time for everyone.
Obviously, this era was all about the incredible work of our lifeguards, but it’s nice to think that our little show may have done something to help people through quarantine. Someone told me Barack Obama is a huge Ozark fan. It’s breathtaking.
Now that Ozark is complete, what kind of projects are you looking for next?
I am always happy to work and to have the chance to work with good people. Whether it’s acting, directing or producing, it all depends on the people for me. I have two beautiful little girls who I love spending family time with, but I love my job and would like to keep it that way if I can. I have things on my mind but the past has taught me to manage my expectations. I would like to do more TV. I would like to make films. We’ll see.
Would you ever consider coming back to do another sitcom or has Ozark made you want to stick with drama now?
I love drama, but I still love comedy too. I would love to do more comedy but like a sitcom, it would have to be edgier and more sophisticated. It should be much more current because the comedy has changed a lot.
Finally, your SmartLess podcast has also become a huge hit. Did you ever think it would become so popular?
No, it’s crazy. When Will (Arnett), Sean (Hayes) and I started the podcast, it was supposed to be just a little fun. Turns out people seem to want to hear three guys talk about things. We even toured with it. It’s amazing to me that people pay to see us just sitting on stage talking like people pay to see singers or actors. I’m grateful, it’s great fun but it’s crazy.