Ozark is known for the surprises it constantly unravels and the mysteries it creates at the beginning, only to later carefully untie them towards the end of the season. the show has 32 Emmy nominations, a loyal audience and worldwide critical acclaim. The sincerity they put into their work oozes out in every pocket of the show. The intricacy and the details that went into the character arcs were so defined. It was clear that the makers behind it are no “normies”. The story with so many paths crossing was sure not an easy one to write. Yet, when it came out on the screen, it was nothing short of perfect. But what really made the difference was Jason Bateman’s Marty Byrde.
Jason Bateman as Marty Byrde in Ozark
Marty brought his family to the Ozarks from Chicago. He has, in front of him, a daughter whose life was snatched from her and a wife whose questions he can’t answer. His belief that money will calm everything comes true when the rest of his family eventually joins the family business.
Despite all the chaos, he maintains a calm composure in the most intense of situations like him catching his wife having sex on camera. He is the epitome of practicality and runs everything through his rational brain. Jason Bateman‘s act as Marty is so deliberate but looks just as natural. One can only tell this because of Jason’s rather jolly persona in real life is nothing like Marty.
Marty Byrde feels disciplinary yet warm like the father figure he is. He is that one character that’s predictable, rational and makes viewers feel safe while watching a show that’s going berserk every moment. He is grounded and loyal, sharp yet generous. As the series closed, he became one of the favorite characters and Jason, in turn, an actor widely appreciated for his performance. However, that wasn’t always the case.
A stinging review on Marty after the first season
Jason was confident about how important Marty was for Ozark and was consistent with Marty’s character throughout. However, a New York Times film critic Mike Hale once wrote a negative review right after the first season premiered, calling Marty “boring” and “a guy you see at the airport when you buy a ticket.” Tables, of course, turned on the critic after Ozark spread wide and praise came from all four directions.
This review didn’t discourage Jason or made him change how he portrayed Marty. Instead, season after season, we peeled layers of Marty, until one day his cool demeanor is no longer. Speaking about Marty’s character, Jason said, “There’s a reason Marty is not hysterical because he’s the center of all the madness. I knew why I was playing it like that and where I was going with it and how that, hopefully, is going to be satisfying by the time we get to the end of the season and the end of the series.”
The way Jason subtly became Marty couldn’t have been easy. From a casual walk and the way he drives to how he doesn’t react to tough situations, is all an evidence of how in depth Marty’s character was written to be. And the beauty Jason enacted it with. Watch him in some of the final episodes of the show.