Tom Pelphrey on joining ‘Ozark’ cast for explosive season 3: ‘You walk in feeling the pressure’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Tom Pelphrey readily admits he was nervous about joining the cast of the hit Netflix crime drama series “Ozark.” He came on board in season 3 to play Ben Davis, the younger brother of Wendy Byrde (Laura Linney) who arrives for an unannounced visit. “Joining a show that is so well done and popular, you walk in feeling the pressure. But the atmosphere is calm, supportive and respectful. In every possible way this was a great job.” All 10 episodes of “Ozark” season 3 started streaming on March 27. SPOILERS AHEAD

Ben’s bipolar disorder causes him to be a disruptive presence in the Byrde house. While Wendy welcomes him, Marty (Jason Bateman) is wary of his undue influence on both their son Jonah (Skylar Gaertner) and their cohort in crime Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner). Pelphrey credits showrunner Chris Mundy for trusting him with the character’s arc before filming began last summer. “Chris talked me through the entire season, which was incredibly helpful. It made me feel very welcome and part of the team.” The actor detailed the extensive research he then did. “I wanted to understand as much as I could. There is this incredible book, ‘An Unquiet Mind,’ by Kay Jamison. The memoir is incredible, an intimate journal of the highs and lows, the cost it had for her.”

He also spoke eloquently of working with the show’s three main actresses. “Laura was so generous, open and kind. She has an incredible work ethic. She taught me a lot. I came in with a great deal of admiration and respect for her and she did not disappoint.”

Ben makes the fatal mistake of going off his meds to further his relationship with Ruth. He credits Garner for their combustible chemistry. “She is a force of nature. She reached out to me before filming and we met up and talked about the characters. I loved watching her work.”

Ben’s fate is sealed following his explosive confrontation with Helen (Janet McTeer). The aftermath of that showdown is captured in Ben’s running monologue that, it turns out, was all scripted. The actor calls it “an incredible piece of writing that was an honor and a gift to do – it is poetic, honest, true.”

Pelphrey singled out Bateman for special praise, noting that the show’s leading man also directed the first episode to feature his character. “You almost don’t even notice that he is directing you, he is so good at it. He’s thinking as a director while he has to drive the scene as an actor. His ability to multitask without getting ruffled was amazing to watch.”

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Pelphrey won two of his four consecutive Emmy bids for Best Younger Actor for his role on “Guiding Light” as Jonathan Randall, the long lost son of Reva Shayne (Kim Zimmer). He recalls both those 2006 and 2008 wins in vivid terms and recounts his first nomination in 2005, when 40 of his relatives and friends from New Jersey crossed the river to to cheer him on at the Radio City Music Hall ceremony.

Most recently, Pelphrey was a series regular for both seasons of another Netflix drama, the Marvel adaptation “Iron Fist,” in which he played Ward Meachum, who helped run Rand Enterprises after Danny Rand (Finn Jones) was presumed dead. Prior to that he had a recurring role on Cinemax’s cult hit “Banshee.”

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