Despite her sweet demeanor, 23-year-old actress Julia Garner has noticed that she’s been getting a lot of side-eye stares lately. “I was just eating dinner in L.A., and this guy was giving me the strangest look,” she says, smirking. “I kept thinking, ‘Did I do something wrong?’ Finally, he walked over and said, ‘I’m sorry, but I just finished Ozark, and I’m really terrified of you.’ ”
Anyone who has binge-watched the first season of the Netflix crime drama will understand his cause for concern. In it Garner plays Ruth, a 19-year-old criminal mastermind who—spoiler alert!—spends a good part of the season setting death traps for Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman), a money launderer who’s twice her age.
Though she’s made the rounds on the indie-movie circuit—The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Electrick Children, Grandma—this role is Garner’s most high-profile to date and the latest in a string of unconventional characters the New York native has taken on wholeheartedly. “I accepted early on that I’m not going to play the girl next door,” says Garner, who got her big break as a cult member in 2011’s Martha Marcy May Marlene. “I’ve got this crazy, curly hair, and I’m kind of weird in a lot of ways. It’s fun to play someone more interesting anyway.”
Garner has a similarly eclectic approach to fashion. “I’m one of those people who will wear really expensive shoes with, like, a $10 dress,” she says. Designers have responded in kind by inviting her to their shows: For the recent spring 2018 season she sat front row at Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, and Miu Miu, her favorite. “Miu Miu is the epitome of my style,” she says. “I always go for looks that are playful with a little bit of an edge.”
Next, Garner will transform yet again, playing a sister wife in the miniseries Waco, about Branch Davidian cult leader David Koresh. Then she’ll start filming the highly anticipated second season of Ozark. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to Ruth yet,” she says. “I just hope she’s still a badass.”
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