Jessica Frances Dukes Hypes Us For Ozark, Remembers Jessica Jones And Wants All The Marvel Roles - Exclusive Interview

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Jessica Frances Dukes Hypes Us For Ozark, Remembers Jessica Jones And Wants All The Marvel Roles - Exclusive Interview
Netflix

“Ozark” Season 4 Part 1 just arrived on Netflix, and while we don’t want the series to end, the new episodes will have you on the edge of your seat. Actor Jessica Frances Dukes, who plays FBI agent Maya Miller on the show, is back for the first part of Season 4, and it goes without saying that she plays a pretty pivotal role in the story. 

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“Ozark” follows Marty and Wendy Byrde, who initially leave Chicago for the Ozarks after accidentally becoming embroiled in the drug trade. Unsurprisingly, Season 4 Part 1 takes us deeper into the Byrde family’s criminal enterprises, which only become more nail-biting further into the show. Dukes plays FBI agent and new mom Miller, whose association with the Byrdes could be good for her career, but it could also be incredibly dangerous.

Looper caught up with Dukes to talk about new episodes of Netflix’s “Ozark,” what fans can expect as the show heads towards its tense denouement, and what it was like working on “Jessica Jones.”

Returning to Ozark

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Jessica Frances Dukes Hypes Us For Ozark, Remembers Jessica Jones And Wants All The Marvel Roles - Exclusive Interview
Netflix

I loved these new episodes of “Ozark,” and it was really exciting to see your big role in them. You were in last season as well, but what was it like joining a series that was so popular already?

I was a huge fan of the series before I even got the audition. When the audition came in I was like, “I know this show, I binge this show,” and I think I literally just finished binging Season 2 when I got the audition. Then I did all the prep once I booked it. I watched it again, and then I went back and just watched the FBI scenes … I wanted to come in and be ready because the cast is the top. I walked on the first day and I was with Laura Linney, and [she] is everything to any actress coming up. She’s just epic. 

To have her on the very first day … it was absolutely magical. I’ve learned so much from both Jason [Bateman] and Laura and Julia [Garner] and the whole cast. It was an epic sort of rollercoaster ride of emotions, like joining and now coming back for Season 4, it was like coming back to the family and getting right back to work. We didn’t miss a beat.

I’m not going to spoil anything, but you get to work a lot with the Byrdes in Season 4, and you’ve got this whole other family life at home. What was it like balancing those two things?

It was a lot. I had to talk to a lot of mothers … especially working mothers to make it make sense to me. I think you have an idea of what kind of mother you’re going to be and you can’t help but put that into the role, but then, when the character’s making different choices [from what] you would make, you’re just like, “Oh my God, how is this possible?” I had a lot of wonderful conversations. There’s wonderful mothers on set that were able to kind of talk me through things, and also being a workaholic myself, I understand when the job is … It’s so important to get it done. I think that we get to see this season if she gets it done … I had a ball.

Working with Jason Bateman and Laura Linney

Jessica Frances Dukes Hypes Us For Ozark, Remembers Jessica Jones And Wants All The Marvel Roles - Exclusive Interview
Netflix

You’ve already touched on this a little bit, but what was it like working so closely with Jason Bateman and Laura Linney?

Jason’s nuts and I love everything about him. We’re both Capricorns. We’ve all been watching Jason for so long, and you don’t know what you’re going to get when you walk on the set … I didn’t know what he was going to be like. He is this ball of joy on this dark show, and he’s constantly throwing out jokes, but he is also smart. He has so many wonderful thoughts and input and this and that. I love the fact that he never was too busy to engage or answer a question or to have a conversation. It wasn’t just work.

Laura is … a queen and it’s just epic. I learned so much from working with her … Every time I saw her, I was like, “I’m going to not be weird next time. I swear, I won’t be weird. But you’re Laura Linney. I’m going to be weird.” She’s Laura Linney. There is no word in the dictionary. Every actor that’s in this business, especially if you come from theater, that’s the goal, to be able to trick the mind. There’s so many times that I talk about Laura and I’m like, “Did you see that [movie]? You know she was in that?” And they’re like, “No she wasn’t.” You forget every time she’s on screen. I went to set even when I wasn’t called because I wanted to absorb as much as I could from these people. It was magical.

The wild ending of Ozark

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Jessica Frances Dukes Hypes Us For Ozark, Remembers Jessica Jones And Wants All The Marvel Roles - Exclusive Interview
Netflix

I’m sure you can’t tell us anything, but after this part of the season, we’re getting the “Ozark” finale. How are fans going to feel? Can you tell us if you’re involved? What words can you give us?

I can tell you how I felt reading it. I had all the emotions. I think the fans are going to have every single emotion there is. I think they’re going to be excited. I think they’re going to be heartbroken. I think they’re going to look at their lives a little bit better. You’re going to go on a major emotional rollercoaster throughout the entire season. Every script that came in — because we don’t get them all at once, we get them bit by bit — and every script that came in, I was like, “But how?” I would call the showrunner and be like, “Can I get just one more script?” Because I really wanted to … I would read it like a novel, I wanted to know. It’s definitely going to be bingeable. You’re not going to be able to stop.

You were experiencing those cliffhangers just like we are.

Yes, and then you experience them again when they launch it because [we were] shooting, technically that first episode we shot over a year ago. I’m like, “Oh my God. I forgot that happened. I forgot that happened. I forgot this.” It’s going to be a journey. I’m excited for it. I’m excited for you guys to go on it.

Training for Jessica Jones

Jessica Frances Dukes Hypes Us For Ozark, Remembers Jessica Jones And Wants All The Marvel Roles - Exclusive Interview
David Giesbrecht/Netflix

You were also in “Jessica Jones.” What was it like acting with Krysten Ritter and the rest of the cast?

Working on a Marvel show makes you immediately get into shape, one. Kristen is such a powerhouse, and to see her and what she did with “Jessica Jones,” it was a master class for me. It was my first recurring role, and [first] big role. I want to give a major shout out to Rachael [Taylor] who I was on set with the most. I never really was on set with anybody else but Rachael, and she showed me the ropes … When they would say certain things like “set” and “camera set” and “camera ready [etc.],”  I would watch her to see what she was doing, because I didn’t quite know what the protocol was, what the language was. I learned a lot on that set and I took everything I learned to the next one.

Would you like to return for another superhero TV show or movie, and is there a franchise that you’d love to join?

I train six days a week with the trainer to be ready when they call me for all the Marvels. I’m such a comic book nerd, I already know who I want to play. Whoever [reads] this interview, when you’re ready to do a movie about Vixen, I’m ready. You can ask my trainer — I can lift heavy, I’m ready. I’m such a girly girl, but I’m also a tomboy. I have all those worlds within me. I want to do it all. I just finished re-watching all the “Harry Potters,” and I’m like, I want to be the female Snape.

Listen up Regina King, Jordan Peele, and Tom Hanks

Jessica Frances Dukes Hypes Us For Ozark, Remembers Jessica Jones And Wants All The Marvel Roles - Exclusive Interview
Jessica Frances Dukes/Getty Images

You’ve already worked with some amazing people in a short space of time, but are there any actors or directors you’d love to work with that you haven’t yet?

First of all, I just finished watching “The Harder They Fall” and it was one of the most amazing, magical experiences that I’ve ever had in a movie theater. Every single actor on that is a dream, but Regina King is, I mean, she is every Black girl’s dream. I think she’s every girl’s dream, and she is one of my tops. I think she almost got close to directing an episode of “Ozark” but she couldn’t make it work with her schedule and I was like, “Why did y’all even tell me that?” She’s tops, and everybody in that movie is tops. 

The director [Jeymes Samuel] is … I’ve never seen anything like that movie and it made me feel so powerful and otherworldly. I also love Jordan Peele. I love his mind. I love the way he processes human emotion. I love all of that, so he’s also a dream list for me. And I … There’s so many in this business that I want to work with and will, and I can’t wait.

What’s your favorite film of all time?

“Forrest Gump.” I love Tom Hanks so much. Tom Hanks, I love you. I can’t wait to work with you. Everything that Tom Hanks does I love, but “Forrest Gump” was just a masterpiece and it’s one of those movies that when I’m not doing anything, I turn it on. I think that one and then the next one will be “The Color Purple.”

We're all scared of Darlene

Jessica Frances Dukes Hypes Us For Ozark, Remembers Jessica Jones And Wants All The Marvel Roles - Exclusive Interview
Netflix

I know you’ve mentioned Vixen, but is there a particular role, past, present or future, that you would love to play?

I don’t have a specific particular role. I love powerful women that are multidimensional, that have a lot of things going on. I think that’s why I love “Ozark” so much. The women of “Ozark,” I mean no disrespect guys, we love y’all, but the women of “Ozark” are some powerhouses. They are dealing with about 45 different things at the same time, and that’s an actor’s dream. You never want to just go in and play one thing, but to have a character that is in its own little spider web and weaving and trapped at the same time, it’s a joy. I love roles like that. I love smart women in extraordinary circumstances.

I’m scared of all the women on “Ozark.” You wouldn’t want to cross them.

Yes. I remember the first day I met Darlene, Lisa Emery, and I was like, “Hey girl.” I didn’t know what to expect, and she was the sweetest person in the whole wide world. I was like, “How do you do that? How do you do that?” I was watching her the other day and I was like, “I would never want to be in a room with her,” but Lisa, I never want to not be with her.

Anything else you want people to know about “Ozark” before we go?

Get ready. Fasten your seat belts. Have your snacks. Have your food already prepped. You’re not going anywhere. You’re going to sit here and watch and it’s going to be amazing. I’m excited.

“Ozark” Season 4 Part 1 is now streaming exclusively on Netflix now.

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