There’s no better place to spend the end of summer than the Ozarks. And, more specifically, with Ozark‘s resident scene-stealer.
Netflix’s hit series returns for its sophomore season on Friday, and while Jason Bateman may have the award nominations and star power, many eyes will be directed at Julia Garner, the 24-year-old actress who specializes in playing the anti-girl next door.
“Every role I do has to be different than the last,” says Garner, known for her appearances on The Americans, Girls, Waco, and Ozark. “You have to add some sort of dimension to each of your characters, because everyone has their own layers.”
After cutting her teeth in independent film, Garner broke out in 2015 as CIA agent Isaac Breland’s daughter (and Philip’s assigned target) Kimberly on FX’s The Americans before being cast on Ozark. “I’m normally good at letting things go, but I remember thinking that I really wanted this,” Garner says of auditioning for the role of Ruth, a local criminal who becomes Marty’s (Bateman) apprentice. “When I auditioned, I just got episode 1 and Ruth didn’t appear, so in the scene that they gave me I just saw that there was a lot to work with; the character was very complex and rich and full of life.”
Garner nabbed the role and immediately grabbed the attention of viewers with her take on the conflicted and complex character. “From the outside, the first word that comes to mind is tough,” Garner says of Ruth. “But she’s really just fragile and hoping for something better. I think that’s always interesting to play, because to have hope is such an important quality.”
With Ozark showrunner Chris Mundy telling EW that the “women on the show completely take charge” in season 2, Ruth will have even more on her plate, including the presence of her father, who’s sure to have questions about the death of his brothers.
“She’s definitely in a much more vulnerable place because of her father,” teases Garner. “She loves her father, but she doesn’t like her father. And she’s trying so hard to change him so she can at least like him.”
While Garner is hopeful for a third season of Ozark, she’ll next appear on Netflix in the Jonah Hill and Emma Stone comedy Maniac, as well as Bravo’s Dirty John with Connie Britton and Eric Bana. As with all of her projects, Garner has one mission: “I just want to continue to learn as an actor and as a person. I feel like with every character that I’ve played, I’ve done that.”
Ozark season 2 begins streaming Aug. 31 on Netflix.