“Ozark” will drop its final seven episodes of the series April 29, wrapping up the story of a couple, played by Jason Bateman and Laura Linney (Marty and Wendy Byrde), whose family moves to Missouri and descends deeper and deeper into a life of money laundering, drugs and murder.
Tom Pelphrey (Ben) is no longer on the show, but his character has made a lasting imprint. Pelphrey's character was introduced in season three as Wendy's brother. A tortured soul with a heart of gold, Ben had bipolar disorder and stopped taking his medication. His resulting erratic behavior threatened the Byrde's underbelly operation.
Spoiler alert: In the season three finale, Wendy left Ben in the path of a hitman and the show has operated since as though the character is dead (although fans hope it's not true.) Ben looms large over the remaining “Ozark” story.
A pivotal scene for Pelphrey and for viewers, was of Ben riding in a taxi. He talks at the driver for more than four minutes, in a very non-linear pattern, quickly shifting topics while sometimes in tears, highlighting his mental illness.
“As an actor, there’s nothing you want more or there’s nothing more than having good material," said Pelphrey recently over Zoom. “I’d had weeks to prepare, so I memorized it back and forth and up and down, and I knew it as good as I knew my name. We did that speech so many different times in so many different ways and each time they would just let me go."
Pelphrey was already on an upward career trajectory going into “Ozark,” but he admits it “was a game changer job.” Later that year, he also appeared in David Fincher's “Mank" and next co-stars with Josh Brolin in the supernatural mystery series “ Outer Range ” for Amazon Prime, also debuting this month.
Filming began on “Outer Range” in January 2021 in New Mexico, when the pandemic and restrictions kept many people indoors. Safety protocols on set were strict, and Pelphrey describes it as "a strange sense of being completely isolated, juxtaposed with the most amazing cast.” He says the filming bubble brought the cast closer together, and they all still keep in touch.
Work keeps Pelphrey on the move. He likes to drive to his filming locations with his trusty dog, Blue. He just filmed a limited series with Elizabeth Olsen and Jesse Plemons called “Love and Death" for HBO Max. He also has a role in “She Said" based on the book by New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, about their investigation into Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and sexual misconduct.
Pelphrey, originally from New Jersey, says he isn't sure what comes next. “I’ve thankfully had a very good run recently. But it also means. I haven’t really been home in a long time. I am completely at peace and grateful.”