William H. Macy

Last updated
William H. Macy
Macy in November 2012
Born (1950-03-13) March 13, 1950 (age 70)
Miami, Florida, U.S. [1] [2]
Education Allegany High School
Alma mater Goddard College
OccupationActor, director
Years active1978–present
(m. 1997)

William Hall Macy Jr. (born March 13, 1950) is an American actor and director. His film career has been built on appearances in small, independent films, though he has also appeared in action films. [3] Macy has described himself as "sort of a Middle American, WASPy, Lutheran kind of guy... Everyman". [4] Macy has won two Emmy Awards and four Screen Actors Guild Awards, as well as a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Fargo . Since 2011, he has played Frank Gallagher, a main character in the Showtime adaptation of the British television series Shameless . Macy has been married to Felicity Huffman since 1997.


Early life

Macy was born in Miami, Florida, and grew up in Georgia and Maryland. [5] His father, William Hall Macy, Sr. (1922–2007), was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and an Air Medal for flying a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber in World War II; he later ran a construction company in Atlanta, Georgia, and worked for Dun & Bradstreet before taking over a Cumberland, Maryland-based insurance agency when Macy was nine years old. His mother, Lois (née Overstreet; 1920–2001), was a war widow who met Macy's father after her first husband died in 1943; Macy has described her as a "Southern belle". [6] [7] [8]

Macy graduated from Allegany High School in Cumberland, Maryland in 1968, and went on to Bethany College in West Virginia where he studied veterinary medicine. [3] A 'wretched student' by his own admission, he transferred to Goddard College in rural Vermont, where he studied under playwright David Mamet. He studied theatre at HB Studio [9] in New York City.


After graduating from Goddard in 1972, Macy originated roles in a number of plays by collaborator David Mamet, such as American Buffalo [10] and The Water Engine . [11] While in Chicago in his twenties, he did a TV commercial. He was required to join AFTRA in order to do the commercial, and received his SAG card within a year, which for an elated Macy represented an important moment in his career. [12]

Macy spent time in Los Angeles before moving to New York City in 1980, where he had roles in over fifty Off Broadway and Broadway plays. One of his earliest on-screen roles was as a theatre critic congratulating Christopher Reeve in the 1980s Somewhere In Time , under the name W.H. Macy (so as not to be confused with the actor Bill Macy). Another memorable early performance was as a turtle named Socrates in the direct-to-video film The Boy Who Loved Trolls (1984). He also had a minor role as a hospital orderly on the sitcom Kate & Allie in the fourth-season episode "General Hospital", and played an assistant district attorney in "Everybody's Favorite Bagman", the first produced episode of Law & Order ; in both appearances, he was billed as W. H. Macy. He has appeared in numerous films that Mamet wrote and/or directed, such as House of Games , Things Change , Homicide , Oleanna (reprising the role he originated in the play of the same name), Wag the Dog , State and Main and Spartan .

Macy's leading role in Fargo helped boost his career and recognizability, though at the expense of nearly confining him to a narrow typecast of a worried man down on his luck. [13] Other Macy roles of the 1990s and 2000s included Benny & Joon , Above Suspicion , Mr. Holland's Opus , Ghosts of Mississippi , Air Force One , Boogie Nights , A Civil Action , Pleasantville , Gus Van Sant's remake of Psycho , Happy, Texas , Mystery Men , Magnolia , Jurassic Park III , Focus , Panic , Welcome to Collinwood , Seabiscuit , The Cooler and Sahara .

Macy at the 62nd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2003 William H. Macy at the 62nd Annual Peabody Awards.jpg
Macy at the 62nd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2003

His work on ER and Sports Night has also been recognized with Emmy nominations.

In a November 2003 interview with USA Today , Macy stated that he wanted to star in a big-budget action movie "for the money, for the security of a franchise like that. And I love big action-adventure movies. They're way cool." [14] He serves as director-in-residence at the Atlantic Theater Company in New York, where he teaches a technique called Practical Aesthetics. A book describing the technique, A Practical Handbook for the Actor ( ISBN   0-394-74412-8), is dedicated to Macy and Mamet.

In 2007, Macy starred in Wild Hogs , a film about middle-aged men reliving their youthful days by taking to the open road on their Harley-Davidson motorcycles from Cincinnati to the Pacific Coast. Despite being critically panned, with a 14% "rotten" rating from Rotten Tomatoes, it was a financial success, grossing over $168 million. [15] The film also reunited him with his A Civil Action costar, John Travolta. In 2009, Macy completed filming on The Maiden Heist , a comedy that co-starred Morgan Freeman and Christopher Walken.

On June 23, 2008, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce announced Macy and his wife, Felicity Huffman, would each receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the upcoming year. On January 13, 2009, Macy replaced Jeremy Piven in David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow on Broadway. Piven suddenly and unexpectedly dropped out of the play in December 2008 after he experienced health problems; Norbert Leo Butz covered the role from December 23, 2008, until Macy took over the part. [16] Dirty Girl , which starred Macy along with Juno Temple, Milla Jovovich, Mary Steenburgen and Tim McGraw, premiered September 12, 2010 at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Macy in 2010 William H. Macy.jpg
Macy in 2010

In summer 2010, Macy joined the Showtime pilot Shameless as the protagonist, Frank Gallagher. The project ultimately went to series, and its first season premiered on January 9, 2011. Macy has received high critical acclaim for his performance, [17] eventually getting an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in 2014.

In the 2012 film The Sessions , Macy played a priest who helps a man with a severe disability find personal fulfillment through a sex surrogate. [18] He made his directorial debut with the independent drama Rudderless , which stars Billy Crudup, Felicity Huffman, Selena Gomez and Laurence Fishburne. In 2017, he directed The Layover , a road trip comedy starring Alexandra Daddario and Kate Upton.

In 2015, he had a small role as Grandpa in the drama film Room , which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. The film reunited him with his Pleasantville costar, Joan Allen.

Personal life

Huffman, and Macy at a ceremony where each received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 7, 2012 FelicityHuffmanWilliamHMacyHWoFMar2012.jpg
Huffman, and Macy at a ceremony where each received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 7, 2012

Macy and actress Felicity Huffman dated on-and-off for 15 years [19] and married on September 6, 1997. They have two daughters, Sophia Grace (born December 1, 2000) and Georgia Grace (born March 14, 2002).[ citation needed ]

Macy and Huffman appeared at a rally for John Kerry in 2004. [20] [21] Macy plays the ukulele and is an avid woodturner. He has appeared on the cover of Fine Woodworking 's special edition, Wood Turning Basics [22] and was featured in an article in the April 2015 issue of American Woodturner (American Association of Woodturners). He is a national ambassador for the United Cerebral Palsy Association. [23]

Since shooting the film Wild Hogs, Macy has had a strong interest in riding motorcycles. [18]

In March 2019, it was reported that Macy and Huffman had agreed to have Huffman pay $15,000 to have someone take an entrance exam, greatly improving the scores taken on the test in order to have a better chance of her daughter getting into college. Huffman was indicted on fraud and conspiracy charges as part of a wider federal investigation of college admissions bribery. For undisclosed reasons, [24] no charges were filed against Macy. [25] On September 13, 2019, a federal judge in Boston sentenced Huffman to 14 days in a federal prison, [26] though she only served 12 days. [27] As of October 2020, when Huffman completed the other parts of her sentence, which included 250 hours of community service and a year of supervised release, no charges have filed against Macy. [28]



1980 Somewhere in Time Critic
Foolin' Around Bronski
1983 Without a Trace Reporter
WarGames NORAD OfficerUncredited Cameo
1985 The Last Dragon J. J.
1987 Radio Days Radio Actor
House of Games Sgt. Moran
1988 Things Change Billy Drake
1991 Homicide Tim Sullivan
Shadows and Fog Cop with Spiro
1993 Twenty Bucks Property Clerk
Benny & Joon Randy Burch
Searching for Bobby Fischer Petey's Father
1994 Being Human Boris
The Client Dr. Greenway
Dead on SightSteven Meeker
Oleanna John
1995 Murder in the First D.A. William McNeil
Evolver EvolverVoice
RoommatesDoctorUncredited Cameo
Tall Tale Railroad MagnateUncredited Cameo [29]
Above Suspicion Pros. Atty. Schultz
Mr. Holland's Opus Vice-Principal Gene Wolters
1996 Down Periscope Commander Carl Knox
Fargo Jerry LundegaardNominated for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor [30]
Hit Me Policeman
Ghosts of Mississippi Charlie Crisco
1997 Colin Fitz Lives! Mr. O'Day / Colin Fitz
Air Force One Major Caldwell
Boogie Nights Little Bill Thompson
Wag the Dog CIA Agent Charles Young
1998 Jerry and Tom Karl
Pleasantville George Parker
Psycho Milton Arbogast
The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue JustinVoice, Direct-to-video
A Civil Action James Gordon
1999 Happy, Texas Sheriff Chappy Dent
Mystery Men The Shoveler
Magnolia Quiz Kid Donnie Smith
2000 Panic Alex
State and Main Walt Price
2001 Jurassic Park III Paul Kirby
Focus Lawrence "Larry" Newman
2002 Welcome to Collinwood Riley
2003 The Cooler Bernie Lootz
Stealing Sinatra John Irwin
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls NarratorVoice, Documentary
Seabiscuit Tick Tock McGlaughlin
2004 Spartan Stoddard
In Enemy Hands Chief of Boat Nathan Travers
Cellular Sgt. Bob Mooney
2005 Sahara Admiral James Sandecker
Edmond Edmond Burke
Thank You for Smoking Senator Ortolan K. Finistirre
2006 Doogal Brian the SnailVoice
Choose Your Own Adventure: The Abominable Snowman Rudyard NorthVoice, Direct-to-video
Bobby Paul
Inland Empire Announcer
Everyone's Hero Lefty MaginnisVoice
2007 Wild Hogs Dudley Frank
He Was a Quiet Man Gene Shelby
2008 The Deal Charlie Berns
Bart Got a Room Ernie Stein
The Tale of Despereaux LesterVoice
2009 The Maiden Heist George McLendon
Shorts Dr. Noseworthy
2010 Marmaduke Don Twombly
Dirty Girl Ray
2011 The Lincoln Lawyer Frank Levin
Portraits in Dramatic TimeHimself
2012 The Sessions Father Brendan
2013 A Single Shot Pitt
Trust Me Gary
2014 The Wind Rises SatomiVoice, (English version)
Ernest & Celestine Head DentistVoice, (English version)
Rudderless Trill (Proprietor)Director
Two-Bit Waltz Carl
Cake Leonard
2015 Walter Dr. Corman
Dial a Prayer Bill
Stealing Cars Philip Wyatt
Room Robert "Grandpa" Newsome
2016 Blood Father Kirby
2017 The Layover Director
Krystal WyattDirector


1978 The Awakening Land Will Beagle TV Mini-Series
1982 Another World Frank FiskUnknown episodes
1983The Cradle Will FallBen Duffy Television film
SitcomChip Gooseberry Television film
1984 The Boy Who Loved Trolls Socrates the Turtle (voice) Television film
The Dining RoomArthur / Charlie / Architect / Billy / Nick / Fred / Tony / Standish Television film
1985JoannaNapoleon Flipper TV Short
HometownLoring DixwellEpisode: "Mary's Yen"
1985–1988 Spenser: For Hire Efrem Connors3 episodes
1986 Kate & Allie CarlEpisode: "General Hospital"
1987 The Equalizer Dr. SpauldingEpisode: "Hand and Glove"
Alive from Off Center UncreditedEpisode: "As Seen on TV"
1988 The Murder of Mary Phagan Randy TV Mini-Series
Lip Service Farmer Television film; Director
1989 Tattinger's MyronEpisode: "Tour of Doody"
1990 ABC Afterschool Specials Store ClerkEpisode: "All That Glitters"
Law & Order John McCormackEpisode: "Everybody's Favorite Bagman"
1992In the Line of Duty: Siege at MarionRay Daniels Television film
Law & Order PowellEpisode: "Sisters of Mercy"
Civil Wars Donald PatchenEpisode: "Denise and De Nuptials:
A Private Matter Psychiatrist Television film
The Water Engine Charles Lang Television film
A Murderous Affair: The Carolyn Warmus StorySean Hammel Television film
The Heart of Justice Booth Television film
1993 Bakersfield P.D. Russell KarpEpisode: "Cable Does Not Pay"
L.A. Law Bernard RuskinEpisode: "Rhyme and Punishment"
1994–2009 ER Dr. David Morgenstern 31 episodes
1994TexanDoctor TV Short
1995In the Shadow of EvilDr. Frank Teague Television film
Mystery DanceBob WilsonEpisode: "Episode #1.1"
1996 Andersonville Col. Chandler TV Mini-Series
The Writing on the WallPetrocelli Television film
1998 Superman: The Animated Series The DirectorEpisode: "Where There's Smoke"
The Con Bobby Sommerdinger Television film
The Lionhearts Leo Lionheart13 episodes
King of the Hill Dr. Rubin (voice)Episode: "Pregnant Paws"
Hercules Jorgen Svenson / Sven JorgensonEpisode: "Hercules and the Twilight of the Gods"
1999 Frasier Ralph (voice)Episode: "Good Samaritan"
Batman Beyond Aaron Herbst (voice)Episode: "Disappearing Inque"
A Slight Case of MurderTerry Thorpe Television film
The Wild Thornberrys Skoot (voice)Episode: "On the Right Track"
1999-2000 Sports Night Sam Donovan6 episodes
1999 The Night of the Headless Horseman Ichabod Crane Television film
2000 Batman Beyond Karros (voice)Episode: "Big Time"
2001 Nature NarratorEpisode: "Polar Bear Invasion"
2002 Door to Door Bill Porter Television film
It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie Glenn Television film
2003 Out of Order Steven TV Mini-Series
2004 Reversible Errors Arthur Raven Television film
The Wool Cap Charlie Gigot Television film
2006 The Simpsons Himself (voice)Episode: "Homer's Paternity Coot"
Nightmares and Dreamscapes Clyde Umney / Sam Landry / George Demmick TV Mini-Series
2006–2007 Curious George Narrator30 episodes
2007 The Unit President of the United StatesEpisode: "The Broom Closet"
2008Family ManTodd Becker Television film
2011–present Shameless Frank GallagherMain role, 11 seasons
2011VersaillesBill3 episodes

Awards and nominations

See also

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