NEW YORK, NY – MAY 15: Gersh Agency Co-President Bob Gersh and Tom Pelphrey attend the Gersh Upfronts Party 2018 at The Bowery Hotel on May 15, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jared Siskin/Getty Images for Gersh)
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Tom Pelphrey Joins “Ozark”

Tom Pelphrey, 37, the latest addition to the acclaimed drama, Ozark, now in its third season, stars as Ben Davis, the brother of Wendy (Laura Linney). The popular Netflix series which has, to date, garnered two Golden Globe nominations, both for Jason Bateman as Best Actor. In the latest season, which began airing at the beginning of the COVID-19 quarantine, Davis causes trouble for the family’s money-laundering business, eventually forcing him to go on the run along with his sister.

The New Jersey-born actor is a former soap star, best known for playing Jonathan Randall and Mick Dante in the TV series Guiding Light and As the World Turns, respectively. He also starred in Banshee and the Netflix series Iron Fist. 

He will next play the titular role in Mank, David Fincher’s biopic of Citizen Kane co-writer Herman J. Mankiewicz.

Yes, I was. When the second season came out on Netflix, I found it and I binged the first two seasons in a week. I was really excited to join the cast.

Yeah, they made it very easy. The credit goes to them. It’s a very special set that they’re running there, and Jason and Laura immediately made me feel very welcome. Within a week, I felt as if I had been on the show with them since Season One. I was treated with a lot of respect and just felt like part of the family. Obviously, I’ve had plenty of other jobs where that wasn’t the case. 

I think we developed a really nice friendship. I’ve watched her work, and I’ve looked up to her for a long time now on stage, film, and television, but when I met her, within five minutes I’d forgotten all of that. She’s very kind, very down-to-earth. She really went out of her way to be generous with her time and her attention. She’s just really friendly, and it made that job a million times easier.

He’s great. He’s completely unflappable. I never saw him lose his cool, I never saw his heart rate rise. He’s very easy, he’s very comfortable, and he’s not wasting any time. He’s been doing this forever, and because he’s such a talented actor himself, the way he works with other actors is incredible. It’s really a bonus.

I had a really amazing high school teacher. I wanted to play football, but I got hurt. Then somebody told me to audition for the school play, even though I couldn’t sing or dance, but I landed a little chorus role and got in through that. The guy who was directing that show eventually became my acting teacher. He was amazing and really changed my life. 

They were very supportive. I remember a conversation I had with my father when I was in my early 20s. I had been on a soap, where I’d had some success, and I asked him, “How is it that you were supportive of my going to college to get a degree in acting?” He said to me, “You knew what you wanted to do from the time that you were 14, and you never wavered. I didn’t want to get in the way of it.” I thought that that was kind of a cool answer.

No, which is the beauty of youth (laughs). If I knew then what I knew at 30, maybe I would have had a Plan B (laughs), but I didn’t.

was really a great opportunity. I got to work with David Fincher, who is, I think, one of the best directors that there is, and a real master at what he does. And I got to work with Gary Oldman. I had Gary’s poster up on my wall when I was 18 years old as a young actor starting out, and he’s always been kind of one of my heroes. So Mank was a pretty amazing job. It was a lot of me sitting on set and not saying a word and listening.I did. Yeah, I told him. Gary got a kick out of that (laughs).

At first, I was in upstate New York, where I live. In the last month-and-a-half, I’ve been going back to the city as things are starting to loosen up – and things are starting to open up, although obviously I am going places with a mask. It’s strange. On the one hand, the last few months feels like it’s been a week, and on the other hand, it feels like it’s been three years, and the world’s changed. I’m just trying to make use of the time in the best way possible.

I have watched Sex and The City, all of it! I had never seen it before (laughs), so I’ve seen the entire series of Sex and The City. Then I started watching Plot Against America, and I just started the second season of The Deuce. 

Excellent writing and a great cast. One of the things that I really love about Ozark that really differentiates it from a lot of other shows, is that it’s walking that really fine line where on the one hand it has this horrible, graphic violence and drama with high stakes, but also, it’s really funny. It’s really laugh-out-loud funny in a dark, comedic kind of a way. And the show really walks that tightrope. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that it has Jason Bateman and Laura Linney. It’s well done.