Getting Into Javi's Head Was Easy For Ozark's Alfonso Herrera

The Byrde family sees perhaps its biggest threat yet with the introduction of antagonist Javier "Javi" Elizonndro in Season 4 of "Ozark." Smart and ambitious yet unpredictable and violent, Javi (adeptly portrayed by Alfonso Herrera) has his sights set on climbing to the top of the Navarro cartel. With his lightning-quick judgments and propensity for violence, anyone he perceives to be an obstacle could easily be cut down (including his uncle, cartel head Omar Navarro). At the same time, the character's erratic charisma makes for an arresting watch. It's simultaneously hard not to be a little afraid of the chaotic gent, and hard not to like him anyway ... as far as sociopathic cartel leadership goes, he's a charmer. 

Alfonso Herrera stopped by BroBible's "Post-Credit Podcast" in an aptly titled episode called "Scene-Stealing 101 with Ozark's Alfonso Herrera," because his real crime in the series is indeed stealing every scene. But how can an actor so successfully embody such a complex, dangerous, yet likable figure? For Herrera, it's apparently easy because he likes Javi, too.

Roses are red, violets are blue, beware of Javi if he comes for you

In the interview, Herrera is asked how difficult it is to not judge such an "objectively abhorrent" character, and how that influenced the process of creating the extremely memorable character of Javi

Alfonso Herrera: When I first read the episodes, I really laughed at what he was doing. I enjoyed him, I really enjoyed Javi. So, it was not difficult for me to say, "I like this guy! I really like this guy!" And obviously there are some parts -

PC: He's a charming devil, that's what makes him dangerous.

AH: Exactly. So, I didn't have that much of a problem not judging Javier. On the contrary, I was – and that's why it's so fun to play Javi, because the possibilities are, it's so unpredictable. He's so unpredictable that I did five or six takes, different from each one another, and each option could fit in. And besides, with the response from as great actors as Jason and Laura, you need things happening unsaid. But going back to your question about judging the character, I didn't have that much of a problem. I really enjoyed Javi, and I really laughed reading the script. So it was fun to play that.

It's exactly the likability of the character that provides Herrera's key to embracing him, and that enthusiasm comes across every time Javi is onscreen. At the same time, he has an intriguing approach to handling a character who at the same time is as erratic as he is charismatic.

Charismatic but chaotic villains are extremely popular these days. Case in point, every time there's a new Batman there has to be a new Joker cast ... and these days we even have Joker movies without Batman. It's the appeal of a magnetic yet dangerous predator, the unpredictable force that menaces the protagonists with aplomb. Herrera's approach to navigating that unpredictability, grounded in giving sufficient coverage by relevantly altering the performance decisions between takes, is a great way to land Javi's complexity while freeing Herrera to try novel things–and that continued novelty is the most Javi thing possible.