Ozark’s New Bad Guy on Javi’s Psychology and Jason Bateman’s Asshole Policy

He’s someone who’s been underestimated a few too many times in his life. In the premiere of the second half, there’s a crucial scene where Javi confronts someone who underestimated him when he was younger. Can you speak a little about “proving people wrong” as a core essence of what Javi does?

Exactly. You just nailed it. He wants to prove people wrong and if he cannot change his mind, at least he’s going to break his ass. You know what I mean.

Is there a generational difference between Omar and Javi that impacts the arc?

Yeah. And it’s completely how this business is running right now. These white-collar guys are more present, and, of course, there’s a generational boundary between Omar and Javier. This micro-universe between Omar and Javi is a bit of a macrocosm of that type of generational business—not just in big cities but in Mexico and the United States.

How important was it to avoid the stereotypes of the drug cartel bad guy? How hard is it to avoid falling into those traps?

I tried so hard to just avoid that and to understand who this guy is. To understand what’s his shadow, what’s his light. And more than just saying, put on a bad face and just go on the easy path. [I tried] to really understand this guy as a human being and try to portray that.

What’s your process in that understanding? Do you know Javi’s biography?

I go a little bit into the past. I try to construct these little pieces that you have some pieces of in the script, but, on the other hand, if you construct these other pieces they can transform and build this huge puzzle of who Javier is. It’s very fun to construct these little pieces of where he was, how was his relationship with his father, if he had a father, if his mother and father knew each other, how was their relationship and how did that impact Javier? It’s fun. I like to go into the past and I think that’s why our job is so amazing. We have the possibility to imagine and construct so many pieces that are not going to be shown or spoken on the screen but at least are going to be information for us at least to have something to pull in—a feeling, a thought.

Can you speak about your work with the U.N. as a Goodwill Ambassador for their Refugee Agency? I know that’s really important to you.

Not that long ago, I had a chat with Filippo Grandi and all the UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors, and the situation is very tense. People are focusing just on what’s happening in Ukraine, but you have to also take into account what’s happening in Yemen, Myanmar, Somalia, Venezuela. We are going through a huge refugee crisis all over the world. We need to transmit that into the people to create more empathy, to create more respect. Speaking about what’s happening in Mexico—refugees are having a hard time here in Mexico, specifically people from Venezuela who are running away from a very hard situation over there. Well, I think it’s important to share that message and create more empathy from people all over the world. Or at least in the region where I live.

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