Manny Montana: From The Football Field To The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Manny Montana has had an interesting career, one that had him on the football field before he made it to Hollywood.

By Rick Gonzales | Published

manny montana

For most of his career, Manny Montana has kept to the small screen. This isn’t to say he hasn’t dabbled in big screen features, he has, it’s just that television seems to be more in his wheelhouse. This is why it probably won’t surprise you that his next project is once again a TV project. This time, though, he is going big league and joining a big-time Disney+ Marvel series. Let’s take a look at the actor, his career up until this point, and what is on tap next.

LIFE BEFORE ACTING – IT JUST WASN’T IN THE CARDS

Manny Montana was born and raised in Long Beach, California. He was a jock. At Long Beach’s Jordan High School, Montana played football and he was pretty darn good at it. So good, Montana earned himself a football scholarship up the road at California State University Sacramento.

Football had always been good to Montana but the high school game can be quite different from high school. This was a lesson that Montana learned early on. It wasn’t necessarily the arm injury that took him away from the sport he loved to play, though perhaps it was dislocating his shoulder for the eighth time that finally did it. Whichever the case, Montana ended up having to quit football and start looking for a plan B. For that, he looked to his home city.

Once he realized football was no longer in the cards, Montana decided to transfer to California State University, Long Beach. The prodigal son returns. Okay, maybe he wasn’t actually “prodigal,” but he was going home. At Long Beach, Montana majored in Journalism and Broadcasting. While in school, he also pulled DJ duty at the school’s student radio station. This actually got him an intern position at Long Beach’s Power 100.3 radio station, a station that mainly played hip-hop before moving over to classic rock.

Along the way toward his degree, something changed for Manny Montana. He says the desire to act had always been within him, though he wasn’t sure just how to make that happen. So, after graduating in 2006, Montana decided to get involved in student films, taking on various roles. Montana noted that some of his roles were very mundane and sub-par.

But he found the desire to act. “I’m a competitor at heart, I’ve been playing sports my whole life, so when I saw that I had potential in that, but it wasn’t where I wanted to be, I started taking classes, I started doing workshops, and it reminded me of football,” Montana said to the Long Beach Post.

Montana turned that passion into actual acting. His desire and work paid off and in 2008, he got his very first role. It was actually a feature film titled East L.A. and saw Montana with the lead role as Alex Guzman, a decorated war vet who returns home to see that the war has followed him back to his old stomping grounds. Manny Montana was on his way.

TIME TO EXPAND

Manny Montana got his first taste of features, now it was time to jump to the small screen. His first role there was on the hit TV series, ER, in 2008. He then got some time on the series Eleventh Hour and then Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

From there, Montana began to make a name for himself. He got another feature (Detached) before rolling off a long list of TV series that included Cold Case, Raising the Bar, Lie to Me, The Chicago Code, Chase, Breakout Kings, and CSI: NY. Manny Montana even provided the voice for Felix Alvarro in the hit Rockstar video game, L.A. Noire.

For a while, Montana bounced from series to series, never staying long enough to cause a scene. That is until Graceland came knocking on his door. No, not Elvis’ place. Manny Montana finally got to sink his teeth in a series, one that wouldn’t see his character be a one-and-done type, but in it for the long haul. In Graceland, Montana played the very popular Agent Joe “Johnny” Tuturro. At first, he was more of a comic relief. When he was reading the script for his character, Montana said to Collider, “I was scared of him becoming the Mexican sidekick and goofy guy who’s always laughing, but USA [the network] and Jeff [Eastin, series creator] did a great job of helping him growing throughout the season.  With the first three episodes, Johnny was nothing but light and funny.  In Episode 4, he got into some serious stuff when he went undercover as a Mexican gangster.”

For three seasons, Graceland was a hit. Montana got to stretch his acting chops playing the fun-loving, but serious-when-need-be undercover agent. His role on the show got him some big-time notice as well. In 2015, Montana grabbed a role in Michael Mann’s Blackhat (initially the film had been called Cyber) which was led by Chris Hemsworth. “I auditioned for one of the leads and I didn’t get it, but they liked me and offered me for another role.  So, it’s a smaller part, but I’m not going to turn down a chance to work with Michael Mann.” No, you simply can’t.

LIFE AFTER GRACELAND FOR MANNY MONTANA

Unfortunately for Manny Montana, Graceland ended after three seasons. Thankfully for Montana, he had already built up enough goodwill and acting chops to move right into another series. He grabbed six episodes on South Beach, a couple of single shots on Lucifer and NCIS: Los Angeles, and then two more hefty roles on Conviction and then Rosewood.

Manny Montana lent his voice to the animated series, Mission Force One before taking a role in The Mule, a feature film that starred and was directed by Clint Eastwood. Montana’s next TV role could be considered one of his most recognized as he starred in the popular series, Good Girls. As Rio, he was in each and every 50 episodes of the series and starred opposite Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Retta, Mae Whitman, Reno Wilson, Lidya Jewett, and Matthew Lillard.

When Good Girls ended, Montana got some time on Mayans M.C. and most recently, Manny Montana can be seen in season 4 of the hit HBO series, Westworld. But that’s not all for Montana. Not even remotely all.

MANNY MONTANA HAS GOT (IRON)HEART

It appears that good, hard work pays off. In June, it was announced that Manny Montana had just grabbed a series regular role in the Disney+ series, Marvel’s Ironheart. Although Montana’s role is being kept a tightly guarded secret, we do know that Ironheart will star Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams as the young teenage brainiac inventor who creates the most advanced suit of armor the world has seen since Tony Stark invented his Iron Man suits.

The series has already gone into production and is scheduled to premiere in the Fall of 2023. Of course, Marvel fans will get a look at Thorne as Riri Williams long before Ironheart premieres as she will be seen in the upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

MANNY MONTANA ON INSTAGRAM

While some stars are beginning to shy away from it more and more, Manny Montana has fully embraced social media. Well, to be more exact, his wife, actress Adelfa Marr, is more on social media, but Manny does have a presence. Even if it is from his wife posting about him. Take, for instance, this amazing post Adelfa put on her Instagram.

When Manny hits Instagram, he has shown on a number of occasions that he isn’t afraid to tackle controversial topics.

Though Montana doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty with some of his Instagram posts, he also doesn’t mind showing his love for the woman who makes it all happen for him – his wife. It is quite evident by taking a peek at both Instagram accounts that the love Manny and Adelfa have for each other is real. Here’s to hoping it is also long-lasting.


In all, Manny Montana has made quite the career for himself and with a stint coming up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there could be even bigger things coming.