Jason Bateman and Laura Linney wear navy and look solemn.

Laura Linney Keeps On Shining

Linney’s Ozark co-stars on the legend herself.

3 August 20222 min read

It’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite performance of Laura Linney’s. She’s stunned on both stage and screen over the past three decades, bringing depth and originality to projects like Mystic River, Kinsey, and The Little Foxes, and leaving countless accolades (including five Tony Award nominations, three Oscars nominations, and four Emmy wins) in her wake.

Given her phenomenal range and impeccable track record, it’s no wonder Ozark executive producer, director, and star Jason Bateman was keen to cast Linney as the ruthless Wendy Byrde when the series was first getting off the ground. “The thing I was focused on by trying to land Laura was what she would represent internally and externally about the show . . . she is unapologetically real and serious,” Bateman remarks, “She is just so restrained and so classy with the way in which she goes about doing what she does. I knew that authenticity was going to be important for what this family is going through.” Over the course of the last four seasons, watching Linney sink her teeth into one of the most complex, conniving, and dynamic female characters of recent years has been a wildly satisfying experience. Equally satisfying is the recognition Linney has received for the role, manifested partially in the form of three consecutive Emmy nominations (including a nod for her performance this past season and a nod for her work as co-executive producer).

In celebration of the tour de force that is Laura Linney and the unforgettable mark that Wendy Byrde leaves on the Ozark universe, we’ve pulled together some of the quotes that Linney’s Ozark peers have shared over the years about their beloved co-star, collaborator, and friend.

Jonah Byrde (Skylar Gaertner) and Wendy Byrde (Laura Linney) have a confrontation outside a building in the classic grey Ozark light.

Jonah Byrde (Skylar Gaertner) and Wendy Byrde (Laura Linney)

Pretty early on [we realized we had something special], maybe even before we started filming, once Laura signed on. You never know, because so many things have to go right for anything to be any good, but you just kept thinking, Maybe this could be really good.

Laura’s capable of anything. This truly is an ensemble show, and this season you saw that benefit the show, with Laura carrying even more water. It’s just a fantastic season because of her ability to take that character further and further, with seemingly no effort.

Laura gets up and reads the script front to back every day. Not the day’s work — the whole thing. It’s really incredible, and she doesn’t advertise that she does it. She just does it. She’s so prepared. She’s so generous and always elevating what she does to help elevate the work that everybody else is doing as well. I just thought her work was so good for so long. You have this idea that she seems so smart, and she’s a class act, and she’s professional. Then you work with her, and she’s more than you would’ve even guessed before you met her.

Wendy Byrde (Laura Linney) crouches in the dirt beside the water. What is she digging up, or else, burying?

Wendy Byrde (Laura Linney)

It’s a dream working with Laura. Her communication skills in terms of directing actors — I’ve never worked with a director that directed an actor like that.

I was just so impressed with Laura [as a director]. I’m already impressed with Laura every single day. I have to pinch myself — I’m like, Oh my God, it’s Laura Linney.

With Laura there’s a real generosity of spirit. She’s a very giving person and very supportive. She works really hard. She’s so smart and she’s so sharp, but she doesn’t wear that; she leads with kindness.

Wendy Byrde (Laura Linney) sits behind a double monitor getting up to something nefarious.

Wendy Byrde (Laura Linney)

You do all your work, you show up prepared, and then the cameras start rolling. And all of a sudden you’re working off Laura Linney and she is doing something you don’t expect and you really take it in and it changes your performance and it changes you. That is a result of having an incredible partner to work off of and feeling so safe to take risks, be vulnerable, and fail. Ad those are the kind of gifts you get when you work with an actor like Laura Linney because she’s amazing.