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William H. Macy

William H. Macy

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Also Known As: W H Macy, William Hall Macy Jr. Died:
Born: March 13, 1950 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Miami, Florida, USA Profession: actor, voice actor, screenwriter, director, acting teacher, musician, playwright

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

An astonishing character actor-turned-lead on stage and screen, William H. Macy was at his best when he was humanizing despairing, imperfect people trying to keep their head up while their world disintegrates. Macy was a longtime collaborator of playwright and director David Mamet, originating the role of Bobby in Mamet's famed "American Buffalo" on the Chicago stage in 1975, as well as appearing in Mamet's films throughout his career. Additionally, he was giving memorable performances in several films by another boundary-pushing filmmaker, Paul Thomas Anderson. But of the top names in American independent film, it was the Coen Brothers who brought Macy his ultimate breakout with "Fargo" (1996), in which he gave an unforgettable performance as a car salesman whose very fallible murder plan goes awry. From his Oscar-nominated work in that film, Macy's hangdog persona and his weathered innocence was tapped for character work in big budget Hollywood films like "Pleasantville" (1997) and "Seabiscuit" (2003). His later credentials also opened the door for Macy to write and star in a number of Emmy-nominated television films including "Door to Door" (TNT, 2002), as well as a tour-de-force performance as a...

An astonishing character actor-turned-lead on stage and screen, William H. Macy was at his best when he was humanizing despairing, imperfect people trying to keep their head up while their world disintegrates. Macy was a longtime collaborator of playwright and director David Mamet, originating the role of Bobby in Mamet's famed "American Buffalo" on the Chicago stage in 1975, as well as appearing in Mamet's films throughout his career. Additionally, he was giving memorable performances in several films by another boundary-pushing filmmaker, Paul Thomas Anderson. But of the top names in American independent film, it was the Coen Brothers who brought Macy his ultimate breakout with "Fargo" (1996), in which he gave an unforgettable performance as a car salesman whose very fallible murder plan goes awry. From his Oscar-nominated work in that film, Macy's hangdog persona and his weathered innocence was tapped for character work in big budget Hollywood films like "Pleasantville" (1997) and "Seabiscuit" (2003). His later credentials also opened the door for Macy to write and star in a number of Emmy-nominated television films including "Door to Door" (TNT, 2002), as well as a tour-de-force performance as a no-good, but ultimately kindhearted alcoholic on the dramedy "Shameless" (Showtime, 2011- ), all of which solidified his reputation as a fountain of quality work and an impeccable performer and storyteller.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Rudderless (2014)
2.
  Lip Service (1988) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Stealing Cars (2015)
2.
 Blood Father (2015)
3.
 Cake (2015)
4.
 Rudderless (2014)
5.
6.
 Trust Me (2013)
7.
 Walter (2013)
8.
 Citizen Hearst (2012)
9.
10.
 Dirty Girl (2011)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Began acting in high school in Maryland
1971:
Appeared in a Washington, DC staging of "Jesus Christ Superstar"
1972:
With David Mamet and Steven Schacter, moved to Chicago and co-founded the St. Nicholas Theater
1974:
First production at St Nicholas Theater, Mamet's one-act "Squirrels"
1975:
Stage directing debut, "The Poet and the Rent" at St. Nicholas Theater
1975:
Cast as Bobby in Mamet's "American Buffalo"; first produced at The Goodman Theater's second stage
1976:
Debut as a playwright, the children's play "The Adventures of Captain Marbles and His Acting Squad"
1978:
Credited as W H Macy in TV miniseries debut "The Awakening Land" (NBC)
1979:
Feature acting debut, "Foolin' Around" (credited as W H Macy)
1979:
Moved to New York City
1979:
Off-Broadway debut as director, Mamet's one-act "Shoeshine"
1980:
Off-Broadway acting debut, "The Man in 605"
1982:
Landed a recurring role on the NBC soap opera "Another World"
1983:
Began teaching at New York University
1983:
With Mamet, co-founded the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York City
1985:
Performed one season with the Goodman Theatre Company in Chicago; appeared in Mamet's "The Cherry Orchard"
1987:
First film with David Mamet, "House of Games"
1987:
Played a small role as a radio actor in Woody Allen's "Radio Days"
1988:
Made Broadway debut playing Howie Newsome in the revival of "Our Town" (credited as W H Macy)
1988:
Played a featured role in Mamet's "Things Changes"
1988:
Directed the off-Broadway production of "Boy's Life" at Lincoln Center's Mitzi Newhouse Theater
1988:
Made TV directing debut with "Lip Service" (HBO); co-produced by Mamet
1990:
Moved to Los Angeles, CA
1991:
With Schachter, wrote first of two episodes for the ABC drama "thirtysomething"
1991:
Third film teaming with Mamet, "Homicide"
1992:
Appeared in the TV adaptation of Mamet's "The Water Engine" (TNT); directed by Schachter; shared a scene with then-girlfriend Felicity Huffman
1992:
Starred in the New York production of David Mamet's "Oleanna"
1994:
Reprised stage role in film version of "Oleanna"; also directed by Mamet
1994:
Directed the Los Angeles production of "Oleanna"
1994:
Landed a recurring role as chief of staff, Dr. David Morgenstern on NBC's medical drama "ER"; earned an Emmy nomination in 1997
1995:
With Schachter, who also directed, and Jerry Lazarus, co-wrote the HBO thriller "Above Suspicion"; also acted
1995:
Played the flat-topped vice principal in "Mr. Holland's Opus"
1996:
Featured role as Confederate Colonel Chandler in the TNT miniseries "Andersonville"
1996:
Breakthrough screen role, playing the duplicitous car salesman Jerry Lundegaard in the Coen brothers' "Fargo"; earned an Academy Award nomination for Supporting Actor
1996:
With Martin Davidson and Schachter, co-wrote the CBS TV-movie "Every Woman's Dream"
1997:
Directed the NY stage production "The Joy of Being Somewhere Different"
1997:
Landed supporting roles in "Wag the Dog" (co-scripted by Mamet) and Paul Thomas Anderson's "Boogie Nights"
1998:
Co-wrote (with Schacter) and starred in the USA Network drama "The Con"
1998:
Portrayed the repressed sitcom father in "Pleasantville"
1998:
Cast as private investigator Milton Arbogast in Gus Van Sant's remake of Hitchcock's "Psycho"
1999:
Co-wrote (with Schacter) the TNT movie "A Slight Case of Murder"; featured wife Huffman; garnered an Emmy nomination
1999:
Cast as former 'quiz kid' Donnie Smith in Paul Thomas Anderson's "Magnolia"
1999:
Played a recurring role as a ratings experts on the ABC comedy "Sports Night"; series starred wife Huffman; earned an Emmy nomination
2000:
Acted in London revival of Mamet's "American Buffalo," this time in the lead role of Teach
2000:
Portrayed a film director who keeps telling his star (Sarah Jessica Parker) to take off her shirt in Mamet's "State and Main"
2001:
Cast in the action adventure "Jurassic Park III"
2001:
Played leading role of a man mistaken for being Jewish after he buys a new pair of glasses in the film version of Arthur Miller's novel "Focus"
2002:
Portrayed Bill Porter, a cerebral palsy Fuller Brush salesman in the TNT biopic "Door to Door"; received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie
2003:
Received a a Golden Globe nomination for his role in "Seabiscuit"
2003:
Co-starred as a down on his luck gambler in "The Cooler"
2003:
Starred in the Showtime movie "Stealing Sinatra," based on trial transcripts and various public documents on the 1963 kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr.; received an Emmy nomination for Supporting Actor
2004:
Starred in the CBS miniseries opposite his wife Felicity Huffman in Scott Turow's crime thriller "Reversible Errors," also starring Tom Selleck and Monica Potter
2004:
Starred as Gigot, a mute who begins a friendship with a recently orphaned nine-year-old girl on TNT's "The Wool Cap"; earned Golden Globe, SAG and Emmy nominations for Best Actor in a Miniseries
2006:
Portrayed anti-smoking senator Ortolan Finistirre in the satirical comedy "Thank You for Smoking" by first time director Jason Reitman
2006:
Played a writer who trades places with his most famous character in the episode "Umney's Last Case," part of TNT's original miniseries "Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From The Stories Of Stephen King"; earned SAG and Emmy nominations for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
2007:
Cast in the comedy-adventure "Wild Hogs" as one of four middle-aged friends who decide to rev up their routine suburban lives with a freewheeling motorcycle trip
2008:
Replaced sick star Jeremy Piven in the New York theatre production of Mamet's "Speed-the-Plow"
2008:
Voiced the character of Lester in the animated film "The Tale of Despereaux"
2010:
Acted opposite Judy Greer and Lee Pace in the live-action film based on the comic strip "Marmaduke"
2011:
Starred as an alcoholic father of six on Showtime family drama series "Shameless"
2011:
Acted alongside Matthew McConaughey and Marisa Tomei in crime thriller "The Lincoln Lawyer"
2012:
Co-starred with Helen Hunt and John Hawkes in Ben Lewin's drama "The Sessions"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Foreign Language League School: -
Foreign Language League School: -
Allegany High School: Cumberland , Maryland - 1968
Bethany College: Bethany , West Virginia - 1970
Goddard College: Plainfield , Vermont - 1972

Notes

Not to be confused with actor Bill Macy, best known for his role as Walter, Maude's husband, on the popular CBS sitcom of the 1970s, "Maude"

Macy had been actively involved with Boy Scout Troop 184 in L.A. until his career took off after "Fargo".

Question: Do you like writing or acting better?

Macy: I think I like acting. It's fabulous to go back and forth. That's the best of both worlds, but acting sure is easier. Writing is like homework.

--From Time Out New York, February 26-March 5, 1998.

"I am sort of an odd duck. I look really odd sometimes, then other times I look OK. I tend to get cast for who I am, which is a white guy who can talk a good game." --William H Macy quoted in Us, August 1997.

About the roles offered after receiving an Oscar nomination, Macy told The New York Times (April 20, 1997): "I am at the grown-ups' table now, for sure. All my pals are sending me scripts. I'm at the point where I say: 'I'll do anything. I'll give you money. I'll clean your house. But don't make me read your script.' So I'm reading more scripts. I'm getting paid more. And I'll get better roles."

"I like a director who talks action and objectives as opposed to emotions and feelings. It's very rare but I would love one who doesn't have his face in a fucking monitor. I want to direct a movie and when I do there's not going to be video playback. I think it's the devil. It slows down the process, actors want to watch it, it robs the director's power ... The director belongs right beside the camera looking at the action--that's what I think. I also think the direcor should have the entire film cut in his head before he starts a day of shooting." --Macy to Mike Jones in Indiewire.com, February 21, 1999.

"Movie stars are completely unfettered. You can be anti-social, and mean, and venal ... and no one will say anything as long as you're selling tickets.

"It's incumbent upon actors to keep their shit in one sock, because you can just run rampant--showing up late, taking drugs, being drunk, being mean, fucking around like a bandit ... And studios will just watch you kill yourself as long as they're making money off you ... Nobody should get paid what we get paid. I did a movie with a big fat star, and we calculated how much he made for screen time. You ready? $8000 a second. We timed a fart. It takes three seconds to fart. That's $24,000 a fart." --Macy to Andy Webster in Premiere, January 2000.

"The demands on a person when they are acting are: Speak up, remember your lines--that's a huge thing--and you have to hit your mark. That's not a big thing, but it takes one more bit of your attention. You take the director's notes; that's one more small piece of your mind. Then you gotta put all the attention you have left on the other person (in your scene) in order to get them to do what you want them to do.

"See, here's the issue for an actor ... I'm playing the king of England. A technical actor will say, 'This is how the king walks, this is how he talks, this is how he's different from me, la-da-di, la-da-doo.' I think it's jive. Limited. You'll see through it. The real answer is: There is no difference between me and the king. I got the role. I am the king. It's a trick. Magic. A parlor game. Give me a costume, put me on a set, on a throne. How does the king talk? He talks like me. The king is me." --Macy quoted in The Washington Post, January 10, 2000.

On his time with Mamet at Vermont's Goddard College: "It was one of the cutting-edge hippie schools of the Sixties and Seventies. No grades, no tests, no requirements. Basically, you did what you wanted. And, if you paid the tuition, it was pretty hard not to get a degree. Then this guy comes with short hair, navy pants which had been tailored, built like a brick shithouse. Basically, he walked in and said, 'This is an acting class. Anyone that doesn't want to learn how to act--get out. Anybody who wants to ask a lot of stupid student questions--get out. If you're not going to work hard--get out.' And us hippies with our long hair are sitting there, most of us stoned, going, 'Who the fuck does this guy think he is?'" --Macy quoted in The Daily Telegraph, January 31, 2000.

"One time Dave [Mamet] just totally disappeared for a month or so and then just as suddenly reappeared. I met him at a bar and said, 'Where the hell have you been?' And he slapped down this huge manuscript, and says, 'Check it out, I just finished it.' That was 'American Buffalo'. Oh, Lord, did I want the role of Bobby--and I got it. 'American Buffalo' got me my Equity Card, so to go back and play Teach--what?--25 years later, that's pretty sweet." --Macy quoted in The Guardian, January 27, 2000.

"You read about movie stars who fight about who looks better in the shot - who's taller, who has better hair, who gets the girl, but then there's the character whom everyone makes fun of. And the reason Bill Macy gets cast every time is because Bill Macy walks in that room and brings that character dignity, guts, and imagination"---Ron Livingston talks about Macy Premiere December 2003

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Felicity Huffman. Actor. Born on December 9, 1962; married on September 6, 1997; acted together in "Things Change" (1988) and both were featured in "Magnolia" (1999); best known as tough-as-nails producer Dana Whitaker on ABC's "Sports Night"; met when she enrolled in his Manhattan acting class in the mid-1980s; dated for several years but broke up and were apart until a mutual friend's funeral brought them back together in the early 1990s.

Family close complete family listing

father:
William Hall Macy Sr. Insurance broker, construction company owner. Awarded Distinguised Flying Cross and Air Medal for his heroism flying a B-17 bomber in World War II; ran a construction company in Atlanta and worked for Dun & Bradstreet before taking over a Cumberland, Maryland, insurance agency when Macy was nine years old.
mother:
Lois Macy. War widow; first husband Fred Merrill died in 1943; Macy describes his mother as a Southern belle.
half-brother:
Fred Merrill Jr. Older; from mother's previous marriage.
daughter:
Sophia Grace Macy. Born August 1, 2000; mother is Felicity Huffman.
daughter:
Georgia Grace Macy. Born March 14, 2002; mother is Felicity Huffman.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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