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Netflix’s hit series Ozark gained a huge following this year after season three landed during the coronavirus lockdown. Many viewers binged the series which finished on a shocking note. But actress Janet McTeer has said she was initially unsure about what the writers had in store for her character.
WARNING: This article contains major spoilers from Ozark season 3
In season two, Helen was a steely, hard-nosed character who would waterboard people without a second thought.
However, in season three audiences saw a much more human side to the character with the introduction of her children, particularly her daughter Erin Piece (Maddie Thompson) who accompanied her to the Ozarks.
Viewers also saw the breakdown of Helen’s marriage and how toxic the relationship had become.
The strains of her personal life started to spill into her professional one with her employers beginning to doubt her discretion.
The Navarro Cartel was concerned Helen’s messy divorce could expose all her work for them, putting them in a precarious position.
Ultimately, Helen losing her grip on her family led to her downfall and death.
Speaking at Paleyfest, the British actress opened up about the cartel lawyer’s story arc which showed a family side to the character.
She said: “What I was nervous of was, as you’re playing someone really scary particularly in season two, was this lovely, scary kind of distance.
“She swanned in in fabulous suits, she swanned out with some really fabulous lines.
“And so, I was nervous if we saw her being normal – like a normal mother – with a cross teenager and all of those kind of things that that would detract from her power somehow.”
The Me Before You star went on to say: “I was nervous about it but then I thought, ‘That’s the challenge.’
“In the end, I thought, ‘The only thing I can really do – I was talking to [showrunner] Chris [Mundy] a lot about it – and what I thought would be the fun, the challenge of it would be able to go realistic as a perfectly normal mother and at the same time, go out and be someone who would just kill somebody like that.
“That kind of psychotic nature, I thought if I could make that work could be almost even more scary.”
She added: “So that was the fun and the challenge, I think, of it. I really enjoyed that in the end.”
Helen managed to maintain her intimidating exterior right up until the end as Wendy Byrde (played by Laura Linney) feared the attorney would try to kill her and husband Marty (Jason Bateman).
Indeed, Helen was planning to take over Byrde Enterprises and eliminate the couple as she prepared to move to the Ozarks.
From her behaviour, Helen realised she was becoming less useful to the cartel and had to show her value.
But it was a little too late after the Byrdes managed to impress kingpin Omar Navarro (Felix Solis) enough with the godfather executing Helen.
The final scenes of season three saw Helen’s demise playing out as she was shot in the head while Navarro embraced the shell-shocked Byrdes.
This huge power shift is now going to impact heavily on the Byrdes with no sort of buffer between them and the cartel.
Their work directly with the cartel will put them in far more danger than they could ever have imagined.
Additionally, their new role could pave the way for their deaths if things turn sour.
Ozark seasons 1 to 3 are streaming on Netflix now
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