The time Ozark made Julia Garner way too uncomfortable

While many celebrities live a glamorous lifestyle — from red carpet events to buying luxurious mansions — sometimes, it's not so chic behind the scenes. Julia Garner, who plays Ruth Langmore in the Netflix series Ozark, won an Emmy for her role in the suspenseful drama in 2019. However, Garner revealed that some scenes weren't easy to film.

Garner's character on the show is a rebellious and beloved badass, with a penchant for speaking her mind and finagling her way out of sticky situations, of which there are plenty when working for money launderers Marty and Wendy Byrde (Jason Bateman and Laura Linney). As The New York Times put it: "There aren't many actors who can break your heart or break your nose with equal aplomb, but that's the block [Garner] has claimed in her still burgeoning career."

But in real life, Garner told W magazine that she is "so different from Ruth" — who lives in a trailer in the backwoods of Missouri's Ozark Mountains. "Are you kidding me? I'm from Manhattan. I'm some Jewish girl from the Upper West Side. Like, I should not be here," she quipped. In fact, Garner couldn't even face one of her biggest fears in order to shoot a pivotal scene — something she will remember forever.

Why Julia Garner nearly had a panic attack filming Ozark

Julia Garner told W magazine that she "cannot stand rodents." That's not all that unusual. "I hate bugs and stuff — how any person does. I hate rodents. I couldn't even watch Ratatouille, which is an animated film." Okay, that's a little extreme ... but it gets worse.

During Season 1 of Ozark, Garner holds a mouse by its tail so her character can test out a murder plot involving a metal boat, the lake, and electric current. The problem was the mouse. "I couldn't even lift it," Garner said. "It was just moving, it was so gross." She said the crew urged her to just think of the tail as a phone charger or a piece of spaghetti. "I was like, 'I'm never going to want to charge my phone or eat pasta ever again. This is gross.'" she said. 

This was no case of a diva making a fuss over something she deemed beneath her. Garner admitted that she "nearly got a panic attack" over the ordeal. "I went to the bathroom to wash my hands, and then I realized I couldn't breathe. I was like, 'Oh, my god, I was seriously going to faint from this little mouse.'"

Garner felt embarrassed by her reaction, but she could not overcome her phobia. "So they ended up having a hand double. I couldn't do it — I couldn't even use the toy one."

How Julia Garner transforms into Ruth Langmore on Ozark

Ozark star Julia Garner may not have been able to nail that infamous scene with the mouse, but she's earned critical acclaim for mastering the other elements of Ruth Langmore's complex character, including her Missouri drawl. 

"I wanted to make sure that I did it right," she told W magazine. Garner said she worked hard before auditioning for the part to try to ace the Southern dialect, but she second-guessed her efforts when she realized others weren't auditioning with an accent. "But I couldn't remember my lines when I wasn't doing the accent. So, I just had to do the accent — and it worked," she told Fashion magazine.

Putting on Ruth's accent helps Garner transform. "I guess it's like almost, in a way, wearing a wig," she told Fashion. She also keeps a fascinating fictional journal of sorts. "I don't write a journal personally, but I have an acting journal where I write as the characters that I'm playing," she told W mag. Considering all the terrifying twists and turns Garner's character endures on the show, we can't help but wonder what Ruth had to say about that mouse. 

Julia Garner and Ruth Langmore grew up together

Julia Garner said something very telling in an interview with Net-A-Porter. The young star quipped: "I think art is most interesting when it contradicts itself." In many ways, Garner's journey has melded together contradictions. She was too afraid to hold the mouse but at the same time, Garner has matured and grown up alongside the character of Ruth Langmore.

"In season one, Ruth was a child in a lot of ways. Now, she's becoming more of a woman," she said. "...I can say this because I'm at that age myself — that's really weird; you're transitioning from a young adult to an actual adult." Garner may be growing up with Ruth and garnering rave reviews for the role, but she certainly doesn't think she's arrived. Actors "need a few different breaks, and they need to keep coming," she said. No matter what, she believes artists need to "work hard and be kind." 

Considering The New York Times called Garner "the tough but tender heart of Ozark," it's clear she's been heeding her own advice.