Guiding Light's Tom Pelphrey dishes on Ozark, working with Laura Linney

Posted Monday, April 27, 2020 7:01:08 AM

Scene-stealing Ozark actor Tom Pelphrey (ex-Jonathan Randall, Guiding Light) says that starring in the Netflix drama is the kind of dream role that "makes all the rejections worth it."

Guiding Light fans knew from the first moment they saw Tom Pelphrey in the role of bad boy Jonathan Randall that the actor was destined to become a very big star. He oozed talent during his entire five-year run in Springfield, winning two Daytime Emmy Awards for his work on the CBS soap opera. Now he's lighting up the screen in the Laura Linney and Jason Bateman drama Ozark, which he joined earlier this year. He's already been called a scene-stealer for his stellar performances in the show, and more awards are likely on his horizon.

For fans who aren't familiar with the Netflix drama, Ozark follows Linney and Bateman as Wendy and Martin Byrde, a married couple who are forced to relocate their family to the Ozarks following a money-laundering scheme gone wrong. Pelphrey came aboard in the series' third season as Wendy's brother, Ben Davis, who struggles with bipolar, and quickly became one of the main attractions in the season.

"I never felt anything but very comfortable, which is a credit to Jason and Laura and [showrunner] Chris Mundy," Pelphrey tells Vulture. "It felt like we were all moving in the same direction rather than feeling like I was there to do something specific on my own. That's a great feeling and also a rare feeling. It's not every job. When you go on a show that already exists, it's like being invited into someone else's home, and you don't always have the kindest host. But on Ozark? For sure."

Pelphrey especially loves working with Linney, who fans may recognize from Frazier, John Adams, Primal Fear, The Truman Show, Mystic River, and Love Actually.

"She was so approachable and grounded, so present and prepared and really generous with her time and with her energy," the actor enthuses. "It's an invisible thing, you can't really quantify it, but it makes life and work so much easier. It makes it possible to be your best self when that's the kind of reception you get. That comes from Laura."

Though Pelphrey isn't the biggest star on the series, the writers of the Netflix drama didn't hesitate in giving him a lot of material -- including a noteworthy episode that was, for the most part, just him and Linney carrying the entire story.

"A stretch like that is the reason you want to be an actor in the first place," Pelphrey says of the special moment. "You have these incredible dynamic scenes and you get to play gorgeous writing with one of the best actors there is. That's the dream. That's what you're chasing. That's what makes all the hard years, the lean years, worth it. That's what makes all the rejections worth it. You get a chance to do that with someone like Laura and everything is justified."

For more from Pelphrey on his experience as Ozark character Ben Davis, check out his full Vulture interview here.

Pelphrey played the role of GL's Jonathan from 2004 to 2009. One of his most memorable storylines on the CBS soap was a short-lived relationship with the character's cousin, Tammy (Stephanie Gatschet). The fictional pair's young, forbidden love stemmed from Jonathan's anger toward the mother that had abandoned him, with Tammy being the one person who could calm the rage inside him.

Following his GL run, Pelphrey briefly appeared on As the World Turns as Mick Dante before going on to shows like The Good Wife, Banshee, and Iron Fist.

What do you think about Tom Pelphrey's role on Ozark? What are some of your favorite memories from his time as Guiding Light's Jonathan? We want to hear from you -- so drop your comments in the Comments section below, tweet about it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, or chat about it on our Message Boards.

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