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Why Mel Sattem From Ozark Season 4 Looks So Familiar

The first seven episodes of "Ozark" Season 4 were released on January 21 and the second seven will come this Friday, April 29. In the first half, as Marty and Wendy Byrde (Jason Bateman and Laura Linney) try and safely navigate their way out from the Navarro cartel, the FBI, and Darlene Snell (Lisa Emery), a new threat to their peace of mind emerges in the form of private investigator Mel Sattem. Sattem is initially hired by the husband of slain cartel lawyer Helen Pierce (Janet McTeer) to get her signature on divorce papers, but he later goes to work for Wendy's father, Nathan Davis (Richard Thomas), investigating the disappearance of his also-murdered son Ben (Tom Pelphrey).

Sattem gets close enough to the truth about the Byrdes and their various sketchy deeds and enterprises to rattle Marty, who after one particular interaction shuts the door in Sattem's face and mutters to Wendy, "I hate him so much." Whether or not Sattem manages to find any proof to back his suspicions remains to be seen in the second half of Season 4, but even viewers rooting for Wendy and Marty — and thus unsettled by Sattem's effectiveness — must admit that the actor inhabits the character perfectly, and plays the private investigator's damaged and insightful halves with equal deftness. But who is this actor, and where have you seen him before?

Adam Rothenberg's early acting experience came in theater, television, and film

Adam Rothenberg was born in Tenafly, New Jersey, in 1975 and took advantage of his hometown's proximity to New York to attend the city's Acting Studio and find his way onto a long list of off-Broadway stages (via The Kennedy Center). The former Army man and garbage collector (via People) has since accumulated 30 IMDb television and film acting credits, up to and including his role on "Ozark." After three short film performances, he made his first TV appearance on a 2003 episode of the crime drama "Hack" and guest parts on "The Jury" and "Conviction" followed soon after.

Rothenberg made his film debut as Bob Truman in the 2008 crime comedy "Mad Money," which starred Queen Latifah, Diane Keaton, and Katie Holmes. That same year, he made a guest appearance on "Law & Order" and starred alongside Ethan Peck and Mariah Carey in the family drama "Tennessee." A small part in the rom-com/crime drama "Under New Management" came next, and in 2010, he had guest roles on "House, M.D." and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." 

Rothenberg's big break came on the BBC mystery drama Ripper Street

Rothenberg got his big television break in 2012 when he was cast in the BBC crime drama "Ripper Street." He plays Captain Homer Jackson, who assists Detective Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) in policing the streets of London in the aftermath of the Jack the Ripper killings. He appeared in all 36 episodes of the show, which ran until 2016 and earned a stellar 8.1/10 rating from IMDb reviewers.

Adam Rothenberg gushed about his experience in "Ripper Street" in a 2013 interview with Cultbox, saying that he enjoyed the way that the series ' focus on strong and interesting characters, as well as the way it showcased the creativity necessary for putting together the details of the murders. In his words, "[I]t's beautiful. I mean, it really does have it all." He went on to praise the writers, showrunners, and his fellow performers, adding, "Ultimately for me the most exciting thing about 'Ripper Street' is the quality of the scripts and the people involved... I mean the writing is brilliant. The actors are brilliant. I've never worked with people that are just so on top of what they do. So that's a very exciting thing. To come into work every day and to know that no one is bored." 

When "Ripper Street" wrapped, Rothenberg returned to the United States.

Rothenberg starred in the highly regarded AMC drama Dietland

Adam Rothenberg's first role after returning to Hollywood was as Detective Dominic O'Shea in Marti Noxon's "Dietland," which earned an 81% Tomatometer score from critics for its critical look at modern fatphobia. He expressed pride in the project in a Q&A posted to AMC's website, saying "It's been really cool because of all the jobs I've ever done, this is the one that has everyone in my family sitting around the table. Hearing my mother and my sister having these heated debates about it is interesting. It's very gratifying to be a part of something that strikes such a chord."

There are countless audience opinions online that confirm the show's impact. On Reddit, one user praised it for acing the famous Bechdel Test, and portraying body types that were outside the norm usually seen on television. Another Redditor added that it was a huge win for representation to show people with these body types portrayed simply as ordinary people with ordinary lives, rather than the butt of jokes. Donna B posted to Rotten Tomatoes that the show had "Brilliant scripts and exceptionally talented actors — its funny, its sad, it makes you wonder if the writers have watched parts of your life."

Despite the positive reception from critics and audience members alike, the viewership numbers for "Dietland" weren't high enough to keep it around longer than one season, but it did lead to more television and film work for Rothenberg. 

In 2021, he worked with Tahar Rahim

Like so many others in Hollywood, Adam Rothenberg was sidelined by the impact of the COVID crisis on film and television production and didn't return to the screen until last year. Coincidentally, both of his 2021 projects were projects that also involved Tahar Rahim: he played a small role in Kevin Macdonald's film "The Mauritanian" and appeared in four episodes of the BBC miniseries "The Serpent" as diplomat Gilbert Redland. "The Serpent" was one of several projects to tell the story of serial killer Charles Sobhraj (Rahim) and his more than 20 murders, including of 14 young tourists on the Hippie Trail in Thailand (via The Bangkok Post). 

Rothenberg's character, Redland, is one of a group of international diplomats who works with the Netherlands' Herman Knippenberg (Billy Howle) with to bring Sobhraj to justice. The series was popular with viewers, earning a 7.6/10 from IMDb reviewers and a 79% audience score at Rotten Tomatoes, and critic James Delingpole of The Spectator called it "the best BBC drama series in ages... [with] superb casting that is honest and appropriate to the era." Rothenberg was a small but important part of that cast, and his recurring performance as an agent for justice set him up perfectly for his role as Sattem.