The first season of the riveting Ozark drama introduced us to the Byrde family and their quickly-evolving situation. Marty (played by Jason Bateman) and Wendy Byrde (played by Laura Linney) are on the run from both criminals and law enforcement, as they’re part of an elaborate money laundering scheme gone wrong. Their two children, Charlotte (played by Sofia Hublitz) and Jonah (played by Skylar Gaertner), are just finding out about the lengths their parents will go to provide them with safety, shelter, and food. Ozark Star Skylar Gaertner Dishes on His Character Jonah Byrde
Table of Contents
Some Q & A
Do you have any siblings? My older brother and I were in Scouts together. And now we’re able to play father and son together. That’s been really fun. Also, my brother is an actor, so it’s cool to be able to connect with him about what I do for a living, even though he does improv comedy and comedy writing. What else do you like to do besides acting? I play guitar and piano, but mostly guitar these days.
Are Jonah and Charlotte siblings in real life?
Yes, I love working with Sophia (Howard). She’s super talented and it’s fun to have a real life friend on set. We’re also in a band together! Charlotte and Jonah are siblings, but they don’t get along at all. They both come from money, but live very different lives.
Is Jonah the same actor in Ozark?
One thing I’ve been asked a lot is how are you and Jonah different from one another? And that’s not an easy question to answer because he shares a lot of my personality, or so I’ve been told. I just really like him as a character. He does things I would do. At times he makes mistakes, but for him it’s usually out of honesty and just trying to be true to himself.
Are Jonah and Charlotte on Ozark related?
To our surprise, Marty and Wendy’s son isn’t related to either of them. I asked Skylar what he knew about his character and here’s what he said: I had met Jason [Bateman] and Laura [Linney] before but when I got there I realized that they really wanted me to do a completely different character than you see in episode one. It was a good thing because it meant they liked me, it meant they thought I was right for their family, which was incredible.
How old is Skylar from Ozark?
I am actually 18 and play a 17 year old named Jonah. I was so happy when I found out that I got it, because it’s one of my favorite shows. The cast is amazing and they are so welcoming. The way they all work together is inspiring and watching them all work behind-the-scenes makes me think What? That’s how you make a show? But yeah, Ozark is a very exciting project for me to be a part of.
What drew you to this project?
I think when I heard Jason Bateman and Laura Linney were doing a show together, that was all I needed to hear. They’re really great, they’re both really funny people, so after seeing that and hearing there was a project in which they would both be starring in it, I definitely wanted to be a part of it. And then after meeting with them and hearing more about what they wanted to do with Ozark — as well as Lake Bell and Peter Mullan — it just seemed like something new and exciting. They wanted me to play Jonah Byrde, Marty and Wendy’s adolescent son. Jonah is sort of a complicated character; he goes through some pretty intense stuff over these 10 episodes.
Have you seen Breaking Bad? What were your thoughts?
I was familiar with Breaking Bad, but I hadn’t really seen it. It’s very rare that I watch TV, but when I do, it’s usually a documentary. So I wasn’t really sure what to expect when watching Ozark. As soon as it started airing, I knew right away that it would be pretty well received. There are so many great shows out there right now; to have one more is fantastic! It’s not just about Marty and Wendy and their new life in Missouri either. We get a whole array of characters who each have their own goals and objectives that sometimes cross over with others. What made you want to join Ozark? Because my character Jonah Byrde is so interesting…I mean look at his name!
Tell us about your character in Ozark
Jonah Byrde is an adolescent with a very dark past. He’s willing to do anything to keep his parents and younger siblings safe, even if it means working with some unsavory characters. One thing that makes Jonah unique is his family dynamic. Marty and Wendy (played by Jason Bateman and Laura Linney) don’t see eye-to-eye with Jonah on how best to keep their family safe—or what kind of life they want for themselves. But Jonah has one goal: to provide for his family, no matter what it takes. To that end, he does whatever he needs to—including using violent methods—to achieve what he wants for himself and his family in any given situation.
How do you get into character?
Playing Marty and Wendy’s adolescent son, Jonah Byrde, can feel like being a part of two different shows. I got to do some fun stuff with Jason Bateman, Skylar said. Jason is such a good actor that he gives you these really good scenes and I love working with him.
Your character wears glasses. Are they prescription? And how do you feel about wearing them?
Marty and Wendy’s adolescent son is a unique young man who has a talent for being able to tell when someone is being insincere. Marty and Wendy’s adolescent son wears glasses because he had an eye injury at one point. Though he wears them, they are not actually prescription glasses; Marty and Wendy’s adolescent son never mentioned any problems with his eyesight. For Marty and Wendy’s adolescent son , wearing glasses has always been just another way to separate himself from society and be an individual. He doesn’t really mind that he isn’t in style with his look—he thinks most people are pretty phony anyway!
What are your hobbies outside of acting? Or what’s your favourite thing to do when you aren’t working?
I enjoy playing guitar and singing in my band, we’re all around 15 years old. I also play baseball; however, I can’t play professionally because of contractual obligations with filming. I recently started taking boxing lessons, it’s so fun! My character on Ozark is very similar to how I am in real life. My favourite thing to do when not working is chill out with my friends, both in front of a screen or out enjoying nature together. Whether it be going out for dinner or seeing a movie at home, everyone just hanging out together for some quality time really makes me happy. Family is really important to me as well as friends and people who are close to me.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
I’d love for people to know me for my work, but I’d also like them to know me as a great friend and overall person. I try my best to be caring towards everyone I meet and really enjoy watching others grow and succeed. I think that’s something that takes time and hard work to achieve, so if people could know me for it, that would mean a lot! Section: Choose your own adventure: * Choose one of these three questions to answer below: 1. What was your first reaction when you found out you were going to be in Ozark? When they told me I got into Ozark, I was incredibly happy because it is such an incredible show with incredible writing. 2.What has been your favorite scene or moment while working on season two?
Any pre-fame career aspirations that didn’t pan out?
While he was still a teenager, Skylar had plans to be a championship-winning gymnast. That, of course, didn’t pan out—but it’s not something he misses: I love acting and performing so much more than anything, he says. So I’m very happy I moved into that. In fact, acting gives him way more time to spend with his family: (Gymnastics) kind of kept me away from them all my life…you have to be physically fit and training all day. It’s not quite as physically taxing as competitive gymnastics, but Marty Byrde is keeping his character in shape by running his own business. You may have seen some photos of Mr.
If you could be in any other show or movie franchise, what would it be and why? Section: Finish the sentence I would love for people to know me for…
I would love for people to know me for playing a character that I’m proud of and that is challenged. What’s your favorite movie, book or TV show?: I love Stranger Things so much. It has something for everyone: friendship, sci-fi and action. Who do you look up to in Hollywood?: I look up to David Harbour from Stranger Things . He plays an amazing character, but it’s how he handles himself outside of work that I admire most about him. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Section: Finish The Sentence Where was your last vacation?: My last vacation was to Cancun with my girlfriend, where we stayed at Secrets The Vine Hotel & Spa Resort. Ozark Star Skylar Gaertner Dishes on His Character Jonah Byrde