The untold truth of Julia Garner
You already know about Julia Garner If you’re a fan of the Netflix thriller Ozark. She plays the rough-and-tumble Ruth Langmore in the series. With her shrewd criminal business sense and acerbic yet hilarious comebacks, Garner’s character has captivated millions of viewers, prompting The New York Times to call her the “tough but tender heart” of the dark drama.
But as Garner tells it, as a person, she is miles away from the character she portrays in Ozark. In fact, she’s an optimistic soul who enjoys life in her native New York City, and she is quite well-known for being just a little bit old school for a millennial. And she certainly isn’t a criminal mastermind, even though she plays one on television.
So what else is there to know about Garner, whose career is still in its early stages? How did she land the role of Ruth Langmore on Ozark, and what roles has she done before? Read on to discover the untold truth of Julia Garner.
When Julia Garner was cast in Ozark, she didn't know if the show would be popular
When it comes to shows that are popular on Netflix, Ozark is definitely one of them. With Emmy Award nominations (and wins) and ample critical acclaim, the series is a shining example of what streaming television can be. But when Julia Garner was first cast in the drama, she didn’t know what to expect. “I didn’t know the show was going to be successful,” she confessed in an interview with Net-a-Porter‘s Porter magazine. “Because sometimes you have shows that have stars in it and a star writer and star director, and it doesn’t take off.”
That’s why Garner was managing her expectations when she started, as she wasn’t sure if Ozark would keep her employed for very long. “But I knew Ruth was so likable, even from the scene I read in my audition,” she continued. “I knew she was my part.” Looks like she hedged her bets well on this one!
When she was a child, Julia Garner had a difficult time speaking
Julia Garner was born in Riverdale, N.Y., a residential neighborhood in the Bronx. The daughter of an artist father and a therapist mother, Garner is a proud New Yorker to the core. “I don’t even have a driver’s license,” she revealed to The Cut. Well, you really don’t need one in the Big Apple!
Interestingly enough, Garner said she had a difficult time speaking when she was a child, which is what got her interested in theater. “That’s why I liked acting,” she continued. “Because I could say other people’s words.”
Garner was also super interested in films as a kid, even though some of them were awfully scary. “I was obsessed with What Ever Happened to Baby Jane when I was 9 years old — which, normally, a 9 year-old kid should not be watching that movie, but I did,” she added. Rosemary’s Baby was another favorite, showing just how precocious Garner was as a youth.
This is where Julia Garner first got recognized in public
While Ozark has been viewed by scores upon scores of people, it’s not the only role that Julia Garner has ever played. But because she tends to play quirky and unconventional roles most of the time, different types of audiences are familiar with her visage. “The first place that I was getting recognized was in coffeehouses in Brooklyn,” she told Vulture. “It was film students and hipsters in Brooklyn referencing Electrick Children or We Are What We Are.” And both of those films are art house fare, as opposed to Hollywood blockbusters.
However, not all of Garner’s shows and films are relegated to indie cinemas, as some of her work put her on the radar of more mainstream audiences. “But if I was on the Upper West Side or near Lincoln Center, people would recognize me for The Americans,” she continued. Garner appeared in ten episodes of that show, in the role of Kimberly Breland.
Of course, now Garner is most widely recognized by fans of Ozark no matter where she is in the city.
Julia Garner is terrified of this animal
Julia Garner’s character does a lot of terrible things in Ozark. Whether it’s helping to launder money for a brutal drug cartel or finding innovative ways to get rid of people, Ruth Langmore is capable of acts of savagery.
But when asked about the most difficult scene she’s had to shoot for the series, Garner had something of a surprising answer. “It was the scene when I held the mouse in Season 1,” she revealed to The New York Times. “I have the worst fear of rodents. I can’t stand them.” Who knew a mouse would be scarier than confronting the Snells or running away from an ambush?
In fact, so intense is Garner’s fear of rodents that she literally couldn’t film the scene without help. “They had to use a hand double,” she continued. “I couldn’t breathe and I nearly got a panic attack.” She added that she thinks she’s probably the “least badass person” on earth, which is quite the juxtaposition to pretty much anyone on Ozark.
In high school, Julia Garner's classmates didn't believe she was an actress
When Julia Garner started acting in film and television, she was only a teenager. And at the very beginning, when she was working on her first projects, her peers didn’t believe that she was acting in movies. “In high school, everyone thought I was like a pathological liar,” she explained on Late Night with Seth Meyers. “Because movies come out like a year later, so you don’t see [them right away].” So there was little evidence of her burgeoning acting career.
That made for some interesting conversations with her classmates when Garner would be absent from school for work. “They were like, ‘Where are you going?’ and I’m like, ‘I’m going to the Sundance Film Festival,'” she continued. “‘It’s this film festival that this actor named Robert Redford started.'” But still, they didn’t believe her and many didn’t even know who Redford was.
It was only when Garner appeared in movie trailers a year after she started acting that her peers finally realized she was never lying.
Ruth Langmore's accent in Ozark was Julia Garner's idea
One of the things that makes Julia Garner’s character on Ozark so special is her accent, which is one you would likely hear if you ever visit the Ozark region. As it turns out, that was something that Garner brought to the table herself, rather than something that was scripted. “I wanted the job so bad that I actually prepared with a Missouri accent,” she confessed in an interview with Fashion magazine. “And when I got to the audition, I could hear the other actors reading their lines, and was like, ‘None of them have the accent, I’m screwed.'”
However, by then, having an accent was an integral part in how she inhabited the role of Ruth Langmore, so she had to go with it. “I couldn’t remember my lines when I wasn’t doing the accent,” she continued. “So, I just had to do the accent — and it worked.”
It didn’t just work, either, as, after Garner left the audition room, the showrunners reportedly decided to make the character much bigger. Well done, Julia!
Julia Garner absolutely loves fashion
According to Julia Garner, she’s nothing at all like the character she plays on Ozark. For one, she’s quite gentle, and she definitely isn’t leading a life of crime. She’s also excited about all things sartorial, which is something you can’t miss if you see her on the red carpet. “I’ve always loved fashion,” she gushed in an interview with Net-A-Porter‘s Porter magazine. “I’ve always loved clothes.”
That doesn’t mean that Garner is obsessed with following the latest trend of buying super high-end dresses all the time. Rather, she instead follows her instinct when it comes to making fashion choices. “I always wear what looks good on me, because I think the most important thing with fashion is confidence,” she continued. “You can wear something beautiful and if you don’t feel good in it, it’s not going to look great.” She added that if you feel like dynamite wearing a paper bag, chances are you’ll look good.
At age 12, Julia Garner's hair suddenly became curly
One thing that makes Julia Garner instantly recognizable is her super curly hair, which she wears naturally most of the time — but it wasn’t always like that. Mysteriously, when she was about 12 years old, her hair suddenly started growing in curly, though it previously wasn’t. “It looked like a rat’s nest — it was disgusting,” she lamented in an interview with The Cut. “I went to the hairdresser to fix it and he had to cut all my hair super short, so that all of my hair could be curly.” That’s wild!
Looking back on that time, Garner is still a bit rattled, too. “That was one of the weirdest experiences that I’ve ever had in my life,” she continued. Plus, the day after her haircut when she returned to school, no one recognized her, not even her best friends. They wondered who the “new girl” was!
Just days before her wedding, Julia Garner didn't have a dress
On Dec. 27, 2019, Julia Garner married her boyfriend, musician Mark Foster of Foster the People. But long before the big day rolled around, Garner knew exactly what she wanted to wear. “I love pants suits, and I always thought that if I were to get married in a courthouse, I wanted to wear one,” she shared in a chat with Vogue. “I wanted a Carrie Bradshaw moment.” But she wanted another outfit — a “more soft and feminine” one — for the reception.
However, Garner’s busy production schedule prevented her from doing much planning, which is how she ended up with nothing to wear ten days before her wedding day. Fortunately, one seriously skilled designer came to Garner’s rescue. “When I was on a lunch break in my trailer, I went on Instagram, and I got a DM from Danielle Frankel asking me if I had found a dress,” she continued. She added, “It was an Instagram miracle!”
Since Garner was already a fan of Frankel’s work, the process was seamless, and Garner was happy to say yes to the dress.
Julia Garner loves the "weird" characters she plays
If you take a look at Julia Garner’s acting resume, you’ll notice that she doesn’t play very conventional roles. But that really doesn’t bother her, as she never really aspired to be the romantic lead or the popular cheerleader. “At an early age, I knew that I wasn’t going to get those roles,” she explained to Vulture. “Not that I’m ugly, but I’m not Hollywood-standard beautiful or that simple beauty.”
In particular, Garner cites her gap tooth and her wild curly hair as what sets her apart from other actresses in Hollywood. “So, I get cult members. I get pregnant Mormon girls. I get cannibals,” she continued. “I got a girl who was in love with a KGB secret agent who wore weird glasses. And even now, I’ve got Ruth.”
But it’s not lost on Garner that these roles are often more “complex” and demand more from an actor than typical starring roles for conventional beauties.
When Julia Garner won her Emmy Award, she "blacked out"
When Julia Garner won the Emmy Award for best supporting actress in a drama series, plenty of folks weren’t surprised, as her work in Ozark has been lauded by many. But one person who was surprised was Garner herself, who said she “full-on blacked out” when she realized she’d won the award. “I don’t remember anything,” she revealed in an interview with Net-A-Porter‘s Porter magazine. “When I walked up on stage, I took the award, I looked out and saw so many people.” And she found the experience to be absolutely terrifying.
This was despite the fact that co-star Jason Bateman was confident that Garner was going to win and told her so, but she insisted that wasn’t the case. “I’m still a little frazzled by it,” she continued. “I can’t believe I was even nominated, to be honest. It was scary-surreal.”
Garner acknowledges that part of her surprise may be due to the fact that she very seldom reads about herself, so she missed all of the buzz she’d created.
Julia Garner jokes that she was born in the 1800s
While many of Julia Garner’s millennial peers are digital natives who love being connected via technology, she herself is a little more old school. “I’m not crazy about social media,” she revealed to NME. “I was probably born in the 1800s or something.”
That’s not to say that Garner eschews social media entirely, as she does have an active Instagram page with hundreds of thousands of followers. But there’s a lot that Garner simply likes to keep to herself, perhaps in order to preserve a little mystique. “I don’t want to write what I’m eating for lunch,” she explained in an interview with Flaunt magazine. “With old movie stars you didn’t know everything about their personal lives — like what they had for breakfast or where they went on vacation.”
In a nutshell, Garner believes that social media is both “a blessing and a curse,” and we’re inclined to agree, honestly.
Playing Ruth Langmore sometimes takes its toll on Julia Garner
For as much as Julia Garner always knew that Ruth Langmore was her role and despite how good she is playing the character, Garner initially had a hard time stepping into Ruth’s shoes. “When I was first playing Ruth, it was really tough,” she confessed in an interview with The Gentlewoman. “It almost felt like I had been hit with a frying pan every single night.” Given what the character goes through in Ozark, that’s not at all surprising.
Even though Garner has continued the role in subsequent seasons, she still has to contend with the emotional toll that comes with the territory. “Not that I get depressed, but I think ‘why am I so down?'” she told Brief Take. “But then I think ‘oh! it’s because I play Ruth 18 hours a day and I feel like I’m stuck because that’s the character.'”
In order to unwind from a tough day playing Ruth, Garner enjoys watching shows like The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Bodyguard. No shame in that, Julia!
Julia Garner is also a model
The main thing that Julia Garner is known for is her acting career, especially her role in Ozark. But in addition to that, Garner has also carved out a spot for herself in the fashion and modeling world. For one, she walked on the runway in designer Alexander Wang’s final show for Balenciaga, an experience she told Net-A-Porter‘s Porter magazine was “very funny, but terrifying… I had to walk so fast because the model behind me was just walking normally and [that] was like me running!” Hey, at 5’5″, it would be hard to keep up with super tall runway models.
Garner also appeared in the 2019 Pirelli calendar, was the face of the 2016 spring/summer Miu Miu campaign, and was the star of a Kate Spade campaign helmed by photographer Tim Walker. “I acted out the clothes, which are very gentle and feminine, but strong because of the color and patterns,” she mused in an interview with British Vogue. That definitely sounds like Walker’s dreamy calling card!
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