Poker pro to movie star, Natasha Marc's Hollywood rise

Jon Pill
Posted on: November 09, 2020 05:31 PST

Natasha Marc didn’t set out to be a poker pro. She always wanted to be an actor. In the end, she managed both. Sometimes the game gets thrust upon you.

She currently stars opposite Ethan Hawke in The Good Lord Bird on Showtime. The Good Lord Bird was created by, as well as stars, Hawke. And is based on the novel by James McBride.

The series, like the book, follows Onion, a fictional slave, who joins up with historical abolitionist John Brown. Historically savvy readers will see spoilers in plot references to Harper’s Ferry, but the rest of you won’t so long as you can keep from clicking through to Wikipedia.

Marc tweeted excitedly about the upcoming show with captions like "Whoohoo!! Stay tuned!!" and "Hahahaaa it’s was awesome!"

But there was a time before she was big business in show business. Back then Marc kept herself in lunch money between acting gigs by driving down to Vegas and hitting up the poker tables.

"People always told me I had a poker face,” she said in an interview with People Magazine. “But I never knew what that meant until I started playing. Then I realized, 'Oh, people can't read me!' So aside from being this cute girl who guys assume doesn't know what she's doing, I was racking money up going to Las Vegas all the time and just playing and winning.”

The spare cash from the card tables gave her enough room to keep pursuing her career in Hollywood.

New Orleans to Los Angeles

Poker seems a natural fit for Marc, who is no stranger to going all-in when the odds look good.

When the levees broke in New Orleans, 2005, Marc found herself trapped atop her local high school. Part of the response to Hurricane Katrina involved emergency evac of the city’s population where possible. They offered free air tickets to anywhere in the states where folks had family.

"I told a little fib,” admits Marc. “Said that I had family in California. I had never been on a plane before but I knew I wanted to go there and pursue acting.”

Was she apprehensive about touching down nearly two thousand miles from home?

“This was my ticket out, and even though I didn’t know anyone there, I was never scared — I was just really, really driven."

Ethan around

Marc managed to get work in some low budget fare pretty quickly. But the checks from Christian funded movies like Living Water (total budget: $150,000) or short films like The Hoodling, don’t pay for an actor’s downtime.

So it was off to Vegas in between.

2011 brought a recurring, minor, uncredited role in Bones, but also heralded a move into regular employment and away from the baize with appearances on Conan and Days of Our Lives.

Now she’s more or less co-carrying the opening act of a prestige production on Showtime with Ethan Hawke.

Pie, her character on the show is a prickly and complex part. Marc describes her as having “good intentions, but she's a snake and goes about them in a very cutthroat way. She feels very privileged, even as a slave, because she gets to make money and slap around people she wouldn't normally be able to.”

She has top billing in two upcoming flicks (California Love and Dutch) which hasn’t left much time for poker. Especially as she also heads up a charity helping hurricane victims.

Last month Hurricane Delta made landfall in a perfect line from bayou to Shreveport. Marc joined forces with ex-SEAL Sean Matson’s company Shop Decon and Team Rubicon (a Louisiana non-profit) to donate supplies to survivors.

No rest for the wicked, still less for the good.

Featured image source: Twitter