Tom Pelphrey misses Ben Davis too. The actor — who received high praise for his portrayal of the Ozark character — admits he’s often more attracted to grittier roles like the one on the Netflix drama.
“Usually, they don’t let me within 10 feet of a comedy. But that’s kind of always been the case,” he exclusively tells Us Weekly with a laugh. “I’m sort of more drawn to that and maybe it’s just more what I feel like is in my wheelhouse. God that was an amazing character. That was a really special, special character to get to play and talk about getting lucky and all the things falling into place. Ozark was one of those jobs where all that happened. It will always hold this special place in my heart. Very grateful for that experience.”
The New Jersey native made his debut on the series in season 3 as Wendy’s (Laura Linney) estranged brother, who battled with bipolar disorder. The intense and tragic story line, which ended with Ben’s death, earned Pelphrey an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor In A Drama Series.
“I knew that he was gonna die from before we even started filming the season,” the Banshee actor tells Us. “[Writer] Chris Mundy pulled me aside and gave me the basic arc of the character for the season. So I knew that, which is really helpful. I didn’t know specifically how it was going to happen until we got closer. I remember we must have been filming episode 7 or so when the production draft of episode 9 came out. … I always try and read the scripts first as sort of an audience member. And I remember reading that script and being so moved and upset as just sort of an audience member of, ‘Oh, this is really tragic, but it’s also the only way this could end.’ You know, like, yeah, it’s perfect. It’s sad and this is totally right.”
Too much of a liability, Wendy leaves Ben at a diner to be killed. Pelphrey would later film flashback scenes for season 4.
“The funny thing about filming is you’re filming everything so out of order. Me at the diner and stuff, that didn’t end up being the last thing we filmed,” Pelphrey says. “It was just a special job. There were a lot of emotional days on that set in a really good way. And for sure the last day of filming there was so bittersweet. It was so amazing because I had such a great time and so sad because I just truly loved all those people and my time there.”
His Ozark work proved to “a hundred percent” change the auditioning process for him. “Fortunately, lately I haven’t really had to audition that much,” he says. “That opportunity and that role and being on that show and all of it really changed some things in an amazing way. And I’m very aware of that.”
“But I will say that the last few years of auditioning for me was a very different experience. And I think it was about understanding,” he continues. “I think when I was younger in so many ways that I think I was trying to do what I thought whoever I was auditioning for wanted me to do. And it’s just never gonna be that good if you’re doing that. And also it just wasn’t fun and it was kind of dreadful and a sludge and I think if anything it was just a realization of like, oh, you know, that doesn’t matter. And maybe sometimes those people aren’t even exactly sure what they want you to do, you know? And so it’s what could I offer, maybe, that no one else can and it’s just my take on it. And that’ll work sometimes and most times it won’t. Even the best actors are still getting told no more often than they’re getting told the yes.”
The Broadway vet more recently played real-life fugitive Jason Derek Brown in the drama American Murderer, in which he stars alongside Ryan Phillippe, Idina Menzel, Paul Schneider and Shantel VanSanten.
As for if he’d be open to his little one becoming an actor one day too, he gushed to Us: “She can be whatever she wants to be!”