Ozark’s Russ Langmore star ‘distinctly creepy’ in new project away from Netflix series

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Menchaca played a pivotal role in the first two seasons of Ozark before his character Russ Langmore was killed by his niece, Ruth (Julia Garner). Speaking to Express.co.uk, filmmaker Sarah Pirozek has revealed why the Netflix star caught her eye for the leading role of her debut feature film, #Like. 

#Like also stars Sarah Rich in her film debut as Rosie, a teenage girl who traps Menchaca’s unnamed man in her basement after she becomes convinced he had been abusing her sister.

The film was released on digital earlier this week and showcases one of Menchaca’s latest performances since his recurring role as Ruth’s troubled uncle Russ on Ozark. 

Pirozek’s new film deftly handles complex themes of sexual assault and false allegations, as viewers remain unsure whether or not Menchaca’s character was responsible for the suicide of Rosie’s sister throughout the gripping runtime. 

Recalling what first drew her to Menchaca, Pirozek explained: “He needed that quality of being this kind of macho guy; is he or isn’t he?”

“And he could play that really thin line. Some people really early on said, ‘it’s obviously not him’. Some people said, ‘It’s totally him!’”

She went on to reveal his previous role in the 2014 film She’s Lost Control was what convinced her he was capable of portraying this complex character.

“He had this very distinctly creepy vibe,” she said. “And yet he was a vulnerable person.”

Menchaca plays Johnny in the film, a patient of sex surrogate Ronah (Brooke Bloom) with intimacy issues.

Pirozek continued: “He was a patient of hers, but in the end, he becomes violent to her. 

“And when I met him in person he was super charming, he’s like a bro from Texas. He was like this cool guy who plays the guitar and is just a lovely guy. 

“So I’m like, ‘oh, okay, you can do that, and you can do the other thing.’” 

The TV star certainly carried his creepy qualities over to #Like, as many viewers will be convinced of his guilt during his earlier scenes.

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Menchaca and Rich imbue the indie thriller with a chilling and tense dynamic, as the man’s protests of innocence provoke his captor to become more desperate and unhinged. 

Despite the actor’s enthusiasm for the role, Pirozek also admitted she wasn’t convinced Menchaca would want to sign on after his breakout gig in Netflix’s Ozark. 

She recalled: “He ended up at the same party as me, and I just said, ‘I’m thinking about this idea for a script, does this sound interesting to you?’

“And he said, ‘yeah, f**k yeah!’ Very Marc,” she laughed.

“And I sent [the script], and he had just been starring in Ozark, the Jason Bateman series. From that, I thought, ‘oh, he’s not gonna want to do this’. 

“He called me back in 24 hours and said ‘I would love to do this film’.” 

Thankfully the star was keen to sign on, and the film is now finally widely available after its intended 2019 release was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. 

#Like is available to rent or buy on YouTube, Prime Video, Rakuten TV, iTunes and Sky Store. Ozark is available to stream on Netflix.

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