Mercer Memories: William Mark McCullough, CLA ’95
William Mark McCullough is a TV and movie actor and producer. He is a Savannah native and founder of Fort Argyle Films and Savannah Actors Studio. He graduated from Mercer in 1995 with bachelor’s degrees in theater and political theory and earned a Juris Doctor degree from American University.
Here are five things to know about McCullough:
1. He got bit with the ‘acting bug’ at Mercer.
McCullough needed to take an elective class during his undergraduate career, but he only had a few options and settled on acting.
“I remember walking into (the class) with such disdain, but I was hooked from the beginning,” he said. “When I finished that first monologue, my whole body was on fire. I just couldn’t shake it. I just had no idea what to do, how to turn that love of acting into a professional career.”
McCullough’s theater classes at Mercer ended up defining his future, although it took him a little while to get there.
2. He started out as a prosecutor.
After earning his bachelor’s degree, McCullough went to law school and started working in Washington, D.C., as a prosecutor. He thought that job would satisfy his “hunger to perform,” but it didn’t. After being involved in a serious car wreck, he realized he needed something more from his career. He quit his job and moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting.
It was a long process involving many low-budget projects before McCullough landed his first network TV booking on “Secrets and Lies” about five years ago. Since then, he’s been quickly moving up the ladder and scoring bigger and bigger roles, he said.
3. He’s been in films with Tom Cruise and Nicolas Cage.
McCullough’s movie credits include “American Made” with Tom Cruise, “Logan Lucky” with Channing Tatum and “Arsenal” with Nicolas Cage and John Cusack. He has appeared on TV shows “Saints and Sinners,” “Underground,” “Mercy Street” and “Living the Dream.”
This summer, he played a dirty sheriff in a movie shot in Florida. He also went to Augusta to be a bad guy in a western, a longtime dream of his. He said the characters he plays are “pretty rough and intense. It’s so much fun.”
4. He loves teaching new actors.
McCullough enjoys teaching new actors the tricks of the trade through his Savannah Actors Studio. He urges them to follow a strong business plan for their careers and shows them how to avoid the mistakes he made. It’s vital for aspiring actors to find mentors with acting experience to guide them.
“I’d say that the most important thing is they have to learn and accept that they are the CEO of their own small business and that small business sells one product, and that is them,” he said.
5. He’s a goal setter.
McCullough said he sets specific one-year, three-year, five-year and 10-year goals. He also makes one-month goals, which he writes on paper and carries in his pocket as daily reminders.
His goal for May was to book a recurring, guest-starring role on a critically acclaimed TV show. His 10-year goals include becoming a movie star that makes $10 million a year, with 80 percent of his salary going to family, friends and charities, and being an in-demand actor who can chose the actors and studios with whom he works.