Virgin River is ostensibly a show about a woman—Mel Monroe, played by Alexandra Breckenridge—who moves to the tiny titular town in hopes of escaping her tumultuous past, only to discover that her new life may be even more dramatic and complicated than her years spent in L.A. And while Mel is certainly at the core of the Netflix series (which was recently renewed for a third season!), just as important are the neighbors, friends, and frenemies she meets upon her arrival in Virgin River, California.
Among this robust ensemble cast, perhaps most crucial of all to Mel's story is Jack, a bar owner and former Marine who might just be the one for her—if only he could disentangle himself from his other on-again, off-again fling and survive that horrific cliffhanger he was saddled with at the end of season two. Jack is played to small-town perfection by Martin Henderson, who flawlessly encompasses that whole "gruff on the outside, surprisingly sensitive on the inside" thing that we've come to expect from Hollywood's small-town romantic leads. Here's everything you need to know about the man behind the bar.
Who is Martin Henderson?
Henderson, 46, was born in Auckland, New Zealand, where he graduated from the Westlake Boys High School and promptly decided to pursue his acting career in place of further schooling. He had begun acting in local productions at the age of 13 and in 1997, when he was in his early twenties, Henderson decided to take his talents overseas and moved to the U.S.
In a 2017 interview, he explained how difficult his first few years in Hollywood were, with the typical starving artist woes further exacerbated by America's strict immigration laws that sometimes kept him from being paid for projects and, once, got him detained at LAX. Henderson stuck it out, however, largely motivated by the success of his close friend Heath Ledger, and, luckily for the rest of us, has now been working consistently in the States for almost 20 years.
Outside of acting, as evidenced by his very active Instagram, Henderson spends his time traveling, sailing, and playing with his dog. He's also an avid chef: In just the past few weeks, he's documented the process of making homemade granola and embarked with Breckenridge upon a thrilling (virtual) sourdough-making journey.
Where else have you seen him?
Prior to his work on Virgin River, Henderson was probably most recognizable from his two-year stint on Grey's Anatomy. In a storyline eerily reminiscent of his new one on Virgin River, Henderson played Dr. Nathan Riggs, a cardiothoracic surgeon who strikes up a relationship with Ellen Pompeo's Dr. Meredith Grey that is soon disrupted by the arrival of his missing fiancée. So...art vaguely imitates art?
Prior to that, Henderson held recurring roles on Australian shows Big Sky and Sweat in the late '90s, and on American series including Off the Map and The Red Road since then. He's also appeared in many movies, including Everest, Miracles From Heaven, and The Ring. His absolute best role, though, was as one of the romantic leads in Britney Spears' eternally iconic "Toxic" music video. Obviously.
Does he have a girlfriend?
Sadly for anyone on the market for a new Kiwi boyfriend, Henderson appears to be happily taken. He made things Instagram official with Aisha Mendez in April of this year, and the pair have since shared a slew of photos of their romantic trips across the U.S. and Mexico in recent months.
Interestingly, the last time Henderson's love life made headlines was in 2012, when he was identified as the "younger man" dating Demi Moore after her split from Ashton Kutcher. Years later, he admitted that it was "not fun" having to deal with the tabloid frenzy surrounding Moore's every romantic relationship. "I feel for her," he said at the time, adding, "I feel for anybody who has that level of celebrity where you can't lead a normal life."
What has he said about playing Jack?
By all accounts, Henderson seems to love playing Jack Sheridan and being a part of Virgin River. Not only does he regularly post excited updates from the show's set—and, of course, bake sourdough bread with his costars—but he's also said as much in pretty much every interview he's done about the series.
During a 2019 conversation with Robyn Carr, author of the book series that Virgin River is based on, Henderson thanked her profusely for creating the character of Jack. He also praised the strength of the relationship at the core of the show, saying that his own respect for Breckenridge echoes that of Jack and Mel. "That's essentially what the friendship's built on," he said. "And I think that's why the love and the romance that is there, is the whole drive of the show, in a way, comes out of a genuine friendship."
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