Mar. 13th, 1950
Miami, Florida, USA
Guest TV Roles
Dr. David Morgenstern
William Hall Macy, Jr. (born March 13, 1950) is an American actor and writer. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Jerry Lundegaard in Fargo. He is also a teacher and director in theater, film and television. His film career has been built mostly on his appearances in small, independent films, though he has appeared in summer action films as well. Macy has described his screen persona as "sort of a Middle American, WASPy, Lutheran kind of guy... Everyman". He has won two Emmy Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award, being nominated for nine Emmy Awards and seven Screen Actors Guild Awards in total. He is also a three-time Golden Globe Award nominee.
Macy was born in Miami, Florida, and grew up in Georgia and Maryland. His father, William Hall Macy, Sr., 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 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), was a war widow who met Macy's father after her first husband died in 1943; Macy has described her as a "Southern belle". Macy has a half-brother, Fred Macy, from his mother's first marriage. Fred became involved in the insurance business with their father, running the agency for a time before becoming a full-time insurance educator. Fred is now the Marketing VP for Goodville Mutual Casualty Company in New Holland, PA.
After spending some time in Los Angeles, California, Macy moved to New York City in 1980. While living there he had roles in over fifty Off Broadway and Broadway plays. One of his on-screen roles was as a turtle named Socrates in the direct-to-video film, The Boy Who Loved Trolls (1984), under the name W. H. Macy. He has appeared in films that Mamet wrote and/or directed, such as House of Games, Things Change, Homicide, Oleanna (playing a role he reprised after originating the role in the play of the same name), and more recently, Wag the Dog, State and Main, and Spartan.
Macy may be best known for his lead role in Fargo, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award and 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. Subsequent roles gave Macy a break with Benny & Joon, Above Suspicion, Mr. Holland's Opus, Ghosts of Mississippi, Air Force One, Boogie Nights, 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 has also had a number of roles on television, the most recent being a guest appearance on The Unit as the President of the United States. In 2003, he won two Emmy Awards, one for starring in the lead role and one as co-writer of the made-for-TNT film Door to Door. Door to Door is a drama based on the true story of Bill Porter, a door-to-door salesman in Portland, Oregon, born with cerebral palsy. The film is composed of several stories, each taking up a whole period between commercials.
His work on ER and Sports Night has also been recognized with Emmy nominations. His character in ER, David Morgenstern, is responsible for a sage piece of advice that has been handed down throughout the series. In the pilot episode, when Juliana Margulies' character, nurse Carol Hathaway, is brought to the hospital with a drug overdose, Morgenstern tells Dr. Greene (Anthony Edwards) that he needs to "set the tone" to get the unit through the difficulty of treating one of its own. "You set the tone" is repeated several times in the series.
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. He recently completed filming on The Maiden Heist, a comedy that co-stars Morgan Freeman and Christopher Walken.
Macy stars as Frank Gallagher, an irresponsible, alcoholic father of six on the Showtime series, Shameless. Of the role, he said, "My task in this thing is to remain as irascible as I can be without losing the audience completely. It's a challenge, but I was born to play this role."
- Met 'Felicity Huffman' (qv) when she was one of his students at the Atlantic Theater Company
- Owns a Bernese Mountain Dog that was bought in Grass Valley.
- The pop rock band Head Automatica has a song named after the actor called "I Shot William H. Macy"
- He was nominated for a 1977 Joseph Jefferson Award for Actor in a Principal Role for his performance in "The Collected Works of Billy the Kid" at the St. Nicholas Theater Company in Chicago, Illinois.
- Uses the name William H. Macy so he won't be confused with 1970s comedian 'Bill Macy' (qv).
- His father lives in Gainesville, Florida.
- One of his major hobbies is woodworking.
- Has admitted to experimenting with LSD in college. William stated some friends referred to him as "acid head".