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Why Wendy's Brother Ben From Ozark Season 3 Looks So Familiar

The twisty Netflix crime drama Ozark has gotten better with every season, and with the third batch of episodes — which dropped on the streamer on March 27 — the series has really come into its own. It's anchored by Jason Bateman's multi-layered performance as Marty Byrde, a onetime financial advisor whose dabbling in money laundering takes over his family's life when he becomes indebted to a Mexican drug cartel. After relocating to the Ozarks, Byrde has spent the show's three seasons endlessly maneuvering and shifting tactics in his efforts to launder that sweet green and keep from running afoul of local crime bosses, with the help of his wife Wendy (Laura Linney) and a series of reluctant and often ignorant "business partners."

In season 3, the Byrdes were paid an extended visit by Wendy's brother Ben, a duplicitous sort who quickly becomes embroiled in the drama while attempting to court Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner), a prominent figure in a local crime family. If Ben's handsome mug looks familiar, there's a good reason for that; he's portrayed by Tom Pelphrey, who has been a fixture on screens large and small for the better part of two decades. You may have seen Pelphrey in any of several dozen guest appearances on network dramas, or perhaps in a smaller feature film — but if you recognized him right away when he showed up on Ozark, you just might be a fan of the soaps.

Tom Pelphrey has been a regular on soaps

Pelphrey landed his first regular gig when he joined the cast of the insanely long-running CBS soap opera Guiding Light in 2003. He took over the role of Jonathan Randall, a young man born into royalty who nonetheless couldn't seem to keep from fighting, getting into trouble with young girls, and... er, trying to kill his mother. We know what you're going to ask: yes, he was presumed dead for a short time after the car he was in blew up. As is often the case with characters from the soaps and superheroes, though, he didn't stay dead for long.

Not long after his character's miraculous return, Pelphrey jumped ship to another CBS soap: As the World Turns, on which he portrayed Mick Dante in a storyline which was infamously too weird-ass even for longtime soap fans. His stint only lasted for a couple dozen episodes — but fortunately, by that point, his profile was high enough that he began landing prime time guest spots left and right.

Tom Pelphrey has appeared in bit parts in tons of movies and TV shows

Over the next five years, Pelphrey notched one-off appearances on a laundry list of series including The Good WifeBody of Proof, Blue Bloods, The Following, Black Box, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. His chiseled good looks and background in soaps did nothing to hide the fact that he's a damn good actor, a fact to which Ozark's fans can attest — and as such, he supplemented his TV work with appearances in a number of smaller feature films.

These included the 2012 actioner Hostage (not the one with Bruce Willis), Excuse Me for Living (opposite Christopher Lloyd and Robert Vaughn), Tiger Lily Road (in which he held down the lead role), and The Girl is in Trouble (opposite veteran actress Paz de la Huerta and That '70s Show's Wilmer Valderrama). In 2015, he joined the cast of the Cinemax original series Banshee, a well-received crime drama which likely served as a bit of an audition for Ozark — to say nothing of another Netflix series which gave him his most prominent role to date.

Tom Pelphrey starred as Ward Meachum on Iron Fist

It's no secret that of all of the late, lamented Netflix Marvel series, Iron Fist was... shall we say, the least essential. The flabbily written, atrociously plotted series had perhaps one defining trait: its supporting cast regularly and severely upstaged its ostensible star, Finn Jones, whose portrayal of the "Living Weapon" Danny Rand left more to be desired than we care to remember.

This trait is exemplified by two of the series' antagonists: the Meachum siblings. Joy Meachum was icily and effectively played by Jessica Stroup, but Ward Meachum — played by none other than Pelphrey — was easily the most interesting, complex character in the entire series. It was almost as if he was ported over from another, much better Marvel show, and Ward was one of the few characters in Iron Fist (along with Jessica Henwick's  Colleen Wing) that we were truly sorry to see go when the show was cancelled. 

It appears that Pelphrey's time on Ozark is also over, but true to form, the actor is moving on to bigger and better things. He'll next be seen in the biopic Mank as screenwriter Joseph Mankiewicz, the son of Citizen Kane scribe Herman Mankiewicz, and in the lead role in the drama Jill. We expect to see much more of the talented actor on the small screen in the coming years, as well, and we look forward to it.