Skip To Main Content Skip To Profile Details
1998 Texas A&M University English graduate and actor Marc Menchaca
1998 Texas A&M University English graduate and actor Marc Menchaca | Image: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Texas A&M University graduate Marc Menchaca has yet to play the role of a cowboy, in spite of looking remarkably like one.

In real life, he’s an Aggie, having earned an English degree from Texas A&M in 1998. He became widely known for his role as Russ Langmore in the hit Netflix series Ozark and recently appeared in the film The Creator.

Menchaca reminisced about his days in Aggieland, the path to Hollywood and his recent walk down the aisle with English actor Lena Headey, who played the infamous Queen Cersei Lannister on the HBO series Game of Thrones.

Aggie From The Get-Go

Growing up in San Angelo, Texas, almost 300 miles from College Station, Menchaca, 48, was initiated early on by a family friend who loved everything Aggie. “At a very young age, he got me hooked on A&M,” Menchaca said.

Actors Lena Headey and Marc Menchaca on the red carpet
Lena Headey and Marc Menchaca '98 | Image: Paul Morigi/Getty Images

Then a random encounter with Texas A&M’s head football coach sealed the deal.

“I was obsessed with Aggie football, and my parents took me to a game. We were in the MSC waiting to get on the elevator and Jackie Sherrill came out, and my jaw just dropped. He stopped and talked to me, and then I guess took down our information. A couple of weeks later, I had a hat and a letter from him in the mail. And that was the end of my deciding what to do after high school; I was going to A&M for sure.”

And he spent his time as good Ags should: “I went to football games — I don’t think I missed a single one — and Midnight Yells,” he said.

He was a member of the Aggie Men’s Club, worked on Bonfire, and in between all that, figured out he wanted to be an actor.

But he wasn’t quite ready for everyone to know. “I wrote my parents a letter, like ‘I think I want to do this, but please don’t tell anybody,’” he laughed.

‘But Only In Their Dreams Can Men Be Truly Free’

The classic 1989 film Dead Poets Society, “made me want to become an actor,” Menchaca said. He recalled a particularly impactful teacher he studied under while at Texas A&M, Professor of English Dr. Larry Reynolds, who he says reminded him of Robin Williams’ character in the movie, an English teacher at a boys’ prep school who ignited energetic free thinking in his students.

“We’ve kept in touch; I always get a little bit emotional when I talk about him,” Menchaca said. “He would start the class off by opening it up for us to say anything — whatever, complaints, compliments.

“I remember him saying he was an engineer, but he gave it up because he really loved to teach literature, and it wasn’t about the money; it was about encouraging everyone to find their passion. He was a big part of me becoming an actor.”

When reached, Reynolds, who is still a professor at A&M, said, “Marc and I have corresponded several times over the years, and I have great admiration for his thoughtful character and rare talent. His kind remembrance of my contribution to his choice of career has been deeply gratifying.”

Seizing The Day

After graduation, Menchaca moved to Austin, where he continued his pursuit, doing commercials and taking roles in independent films. While there, he took a job caring for a man with cerebral palsy, which he did for four years.

His acting career then drew him to New York, where he “hit the pavement,” attending auditions and acting classes, waiting tables on the side. “I would take classes with casting directors just to get to know them,” he said. “I told myself, ‘I’m going to go really go hard, meet every casting director. I’ll run my credit cards up for a year, and then go from there.’”

And it wasn’t easy. “I’d go through breakdowns every day after I’d get home from work, and then I’d run around town and drop off headshots,” he said.

Eventually, though, he met a casting director who brought him in for Ozark.

“That job changed everything for me,” he said. More roles came after that, “but it’s always a slog,” he said, adding, “My wife, she’s been doing it for 30 years.”

Menchaca met Headey in 2020 through a mutual acquaintance. They married two years later in the Italian countryside. She has two children from a previous marriage, now 8 and 13.

Based in Brooklyn, the couple is continuing to work on projects; for Menchaca that means filming in Finland with Emma Thompson and Judy Greer on The Fisherwoman. They’ll also film together in Canada on a series called The Abandons.

“We try to never spend more than two weeks apart, so it’ll be great to work together.” And it’s a Western. “Everyone always says to me, you look like a cowboy, I can’t believe you’ve never done a Western,” he said.

His most recent appearance is arguably cowboy-ish — eagle-eyed viewers might’ve noticed Menchaca this past Super Bowl Sunday, delivering beer through a snowstorm with the help of a team of Clydesdales in an ad for Budweiser called “Old School Delivery.”

This story was originally published by Texas A&M Today.