HE played low level drug dealer Mother Superior in Trainspotting but Scots actor Peter Mullan is now a vicious drug kingpin in the new Netflix series Ozark.

The 57-year-old agreed to be the villain of the piece after he was “aggressively pursued” by its creators. The star Jason Bateman, who also directed five of the hour-long episodes, admitted he was “determined to get him” after watching him play fearsome character Matt Mitcham in the Jane Campion-directed series Top of the Lake.

The drama screened in its entirety at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013 and was later broadcast, in six episodes, on television in the US and the UK. The second series is currently showing on BBC2.

Mullan’s role in the original series – and his latest turn in Ozark – suggests a shift in his career which has, for the most part, seen him involved in home-grown projects.

He began acting on stage before making the move to TV, landing roles in the likes of Your Cheatin' Heart and Taggart. In 1991, he appeared in Ken Loach's Riff-Raff and, four years later, Mel Gibson's Braveheart.

The following year he had a scene-stealing performance in Trainspotting as Mother Superior who handed Renton – played by Ewan McGregor – the near-fatal dose of heroin that became the catalyst for his recovery from drug addiction.

Mullan went on to win Best Actor at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival for his role in My Name Is Joe, then wrote and directed three feature films – 1998's Orphans, 2002's The Magdalene Sisters, which saw him walk away from the Venice Film Festival with the top prize, and 2010's Neds.

His latest turn in Ozark has him play the foil to Jason Bateman’s financial adviser character, who drags his family from Chicago to the Missouri Ozarks, where he must launder millions of dollars to appease a drug cartel boss.

Mullan had big admirers in Bateman and Chris Mundy, executive producer of the series, who had him in mind to play redneck kingpin, Jacob Snell, before the script was written.

“He blew my mind when I saw him in Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake,” Bateman said. “I was determined to get him. He was a big get for us. That was the [inspiration] that I used for this show, Top of the Lake, [because of] the way in which it was shot and paced and written and performed. I like that it’s got a 10-second title sequence so you don’t sit through credits before every episode.”

Speaking about Mullan Mundy said: “We had him in mind from the very beginning, to play our main threat, locally, and went after him, in a really aggressive way. I was a little starstruck.

“We wanted him so bad – we didn’t even have a script for him when we offered it to him. Thankfully, he said yes.”

Ozark has been compared to Breaking Bad because the lead character is a married middle class father who dips his toe into the murky world of money laundering before he’s ordered to “clean” drug cash or he and his family will be killed.

“It’s got a similarity to Breaking Bad,” Bateman agreed. “I’m sort of a normal guy that’s having to deal with a dangerous group of people, a dangerous situation that’s not similar to his regular occupation. I think in Breaking Bad he’s a teacher, science professor? I saw a few of 'em.

“But my guy is a financial planner and he’s laundering money for a drug cartel on the side.”

All 10 hour-long episodes of Ozark are available now on Netflix.