When he was 6'2" and 190 pounds, Michael Madsen--the brother of actress Virginia Madsen--was equally adept at portraying heroic as well as villainous characters. There's something in the way he delivers his lines with an underlying aggression masked behind his gravelly tones that makes you feel very uneasy about his true intentions. Madsen first honed his craft at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, where he worked under John Malkovich, one of the theater's founders. His first few film roles were minor ones, in such projects as Against All Hope (1982), Racing with the Moon (1984) and The Natural (1984). His work received considerable notice after his knife-edged performance as deranged killer Vince Miller in Kill Me Again (1989) and then as Susan Sarandon's rough-edged boyfriend Jimmy in Thelma & Louise (1991).
His big breakthrough role came as the sadistic jewel thief Mr. Blonde in Quentin Tarantino's low-budget hit Reservoir Dogs (1992). Audiences were glued to their seats as Madsen playfully danced around a tied-down and terrified police officer, slicing him with a knife and splashing gasoline all over the petrified man, all to the cheery tunes of Stealers Wheel 's 'Stuck In the Middle With You.'
Not to be typecast, Madsen surprised many with his performance as foster parent Glen Greenwood in the hit family movie Free Willy (1993) before returning to another criminal role as bank robber Rudy Travis in the remake of the Steve McQueen heist flick The Getaway (1994), and then back again as Glen Greenwood in Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home (1995). Madsen continues to turn in edge-of-the-seat performances as morally bankrupt individuals on the wrong side of the law, as in his intense on-screen showings in Donnie Brasco (1997), Mulholland Falls (1996) and High Noon (2000) (TV). In 2003 he teamed up again with Tarantino in both volumes of Tarantino's magnum martial arts/revenge opus Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) and Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) as the coldly evil Budd AKA Sidewinder. In addition to his film work, Madsen has contributed dialogue to two of Sony PlayStations's biggest-selling games, Grand Theft Auto 3 (2001) (VG) and Driv3r (2004) (VG), as well as writing several books of his own poetry.
Although uncomfortable with fame, Madsen's star continues to shine in Hollywood and his droll yet captivating acting style is ensuring him a steady flow of work as one on the screen's favorite heavies.
Michael Madsen is most notably recognized for his role as the sadistic killer Mr. Blonde in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992). Although his career has leaned towards playing tough guys, partly because of his strong 6'2" stature and husky voice, Michael has been working to change that image. Most recently, he gave a remarkable performance in Strength and Honour (2007) as Sean Kelleher, a boxer who promised his dying wife that he would never fight again. When their son becomes ill following her death, he returns to the ring to fight in order to pay for son's costly medical treatment.
Michael Madsen's career spans over 25 years and over 170 films. He has played memorable characters in a myriad of box office hits, including The Doors (1991), Thelma & Louise (1991), The Getaway (1994), Mulholland Falls (1996), Donnie Brasco (1997), Species II (1998), Die Another Day (2002), Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004), Sin City (2005), Hell Ride (2008), and the loving father in Free Willy (1993) and the sequel Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home (1995).
Michael also is an accomplished poet, with over eight books released. Michael continues to turn in memorable performances and continues to stretch as an actor. Some believe his best work is yet to come.
|DeAnna Madsen||(15 April 1996 - present) 3 children|
|Jeannine Bisignano||(1991 - 1995) (divorced) 2 children|
|Georganne LaPiere||(? - ?) (divorced)|
Wears Ray Ban sunglasses in almost all of his movies
Menacing, shark-like grin
Has worn the same pinky ring in numerous movies.
Announced the second greatest movie villain of all time by Maxim Magazine's "Greatest Movie Villains of all Time" for his character in Reservoir Dogs (1992) of "Mr. Blonde".
His character of Mr. Blonde was one of the 200 nominees on the American Film Institute's list of 100 years of the best Heroes and Villains. He was also the only character from Reservoir Dogs (1992) who was nominated. However, he didn't make it into the top 50.
Dennis Hopper wrote the introduction to his book of short stories and poems "Burning in Paradise".
In the early days of his acting career, he considered changing his name to "Michael Hood."
He points to Robert Mitchum as his idol and role model. Many similarities are apparent, as both are large, intimidating "tough guys" who are generally underrated and Madsen (as did Mitchum) doesn't always appear in films for their artistic merit. They both shared a love for poetry. He and Mitchum also both appeared in "War and Remembrance" (1988), though they never had any scenes together.
TV commercial (voice-over): Boeing Corp.
Owned the yellow Cadillac that his character Mr Blonde drove in Reservoir Dogs (1992).
His paternal grandparents (Soren and Anna Marie Madsen) immigrated from Denmark in the early 1900s.
His father is of Danish descent, his mother is of Irish and American Indian descent
For his past, present and ongoing commitment to independent film, was presented with the inaugural Rebel Award by good friend/actor Harvey Keitel at Rebelfest 2005, Toronto.
Poetry collection: 10-Year Anniversary Edition of his poetry book, "The Complete Poetic Works of Michael Madsen, Vol I: 1995-2005/," available at Amazon.com.
One of his dogs is "Buftea", a recent addition. He found it emaciated, wild and roaming the forests of Romania while he was filming The Last Drop (2006). Madsen gradually tamed the dog, adopted it, named it after the town in Romania where they were shooting and whisked it back to beach-front Malibu.
He has said in an interview once that his feminine characteristic would be that he has soft feet.
His maternal grandparents are Lance and Lavinia.
"Burning in Paradise" won the Independent Firecracker Award for Poetry in 1998.
In 2002 he was presented an award for his work with the Shriners Hospital For Children.
Has worked as a car mechanic, a landscaper and a hospital orderly before turning to acting.
Married his wife, DeAnna Madsen, in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
He was originally asked to play "Harland", the man who rapes Geena Davis in Thelma & Louise (1991), but he refused the part and, when director Ridley Scott asked what part he would like instead, Madsen asked if he could play "Jimmy Lennox", the well meaning but short tempered boyfriend of Susan Sarandon's Louise. Scott initially scoffed at the idea, but Madsen got the part of "Jimmy" after having lunch with Sarandon.
He painted houses, repaired cars, worked as an orderly in a hospital and pumped gas in his late teens and early twenties before he moved to Los Angeles.
Hobbies include cars and bikes.
Has a parrot called Marlon (after Marlon Brando).
Has lent his voice to several seasons of "Animal Precinct" (2001) on The Animal Planet.
Was offered the role of Seth Gecko in From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), but couldn't accept due to scheduling conflicts.
According to his interview in Maxim magazine, he doesn't own a cell phone nor does he use the Internet to send e-mails; he still writes letters by hand.
Lives in Malibu with his family.
His parents, Cal and Elaine Madsen, divorced when Michael was 9.
He has an older sister named Cheryl Madsen (Cheri). She's the owner of a restaurant in Wisconsin.
September 2007 - outstanding achievement award in acting at the 13th annual Temecula Valley International Film & Music Festival.
Was considered for the role of John McClane in Die Hard (1988).
Studied at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre.
The films he acted in have grossed over 2 billion dollars world wide.
Will Rogers pioneer award 2007.
The Boys Republic once a year gives a scholarship on behalf of Michael Madsen. Steve McQueen attended that school.
Very well-known for his generosity; he gave his casting director friend Bruno Rosato a Porsche 928.
Won the Maverick Award 2007 Method fest, presented to him by good friend David Carradine.
Uncle of Jack Sabato.
Ex-son-in-law of Georgia Holt.
Well, one thing for sure, I won't be remembered for Free Willy (1993). Or maybe I will.
[in Men's Health, March 2004] Kids are a great excuse for you to stop acting like one.
Encourage your kids' artistic side. Toughen up everything else.
Your children don't have to fear you to respect you.
Is it really selling out if it feeds your family?
I encourage my boys to do stuff in the arts, but I'm also an advocate of not taking any shit . . . I have a heavy bag and every morning the boys go three three-minute rounds on the heavy bag with the gloves.
The oddest thing is when children recognize me from Free Willy (1993) and their parents recognize me from Reservoir Dogs (1992). The kids are, like, "There's Glen!" and the parents are, like, "Don't go near that guy!"
I'm a leading man trapped inside a bad guy's body.
You get these horrifying straight-to-video things for very little money, then you go to the Cannes Film Festival and they got some poster of you, 40 feet high, in the worst movie in the world. You're like, "Oh my God. Take the fucking thing down!"
 Maybe I was just born in the wrong era, man. I'm a bit of a throwback to the days of black-and-white movies. Those guys back then, they had a certain kind of directness about them. A lot of the screenplays, the plots were very simplistic - they gave rise to a type of anti-hero that maybe I suit better.
I've been in a few brawls in my time.
I probably made a few pictures I shouldn't have done, but I have four sons and I have to pay the rent. If you have a decision to make about whether or not you can buy groceries at the market or whether or not you're going to make a bad movie, you're going to make a bad movie.
My career has been very strange. My career is like a heart monitor. I get involved in a good project now and then to keep things going. And then I make things that I work on that I hope are going to be good so I can make a living and keep a roof over the heads of those little monsters I have in my house. You know, every movie you make can't be great, no matter who you are. Even [Marlon Brando] made some clinkers.
I grew up in a time when I watched actors like Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum . . . those are the movies that I liked and I responded to. They're all gone now and there's no talent like that anymore, there's no immensity of talent that exists like that in the motion picture industry. Even the movies are turning into a bunch of junk. They think if they put a handsome face in there or a good-looking body and they surround it with enough cars blowing up, that it is going to be entertaining . . . but in the long run it's just not going to last. It's all empty, there's no story anymore . . . the same thing is happening to the motion picture industry that is happening to the landscape.
[on his role in Strength and Honour (2007)] It's a movie about fighters, not fighting. You know, I got over seeing myself on screen a long time ago, but watching this film really affects me.
I like to diversify. And I am all about longevity. I want to be doing this for as long as I can. I have made, I think, 72 pictures now. And I have made a lot of studio stuff and I have made a lot of low-budget stuff. The fun of making independent films is that they are a lot more open and it is a lot easier to ad-lib and create a character and collaborate with the director. With a studio picture, you are a lot more controlled and your whole environment and your whole presentation is a lot more monitored.
 I liked The Getaway (1994). I think "The Getaway" is pretty good. It was exciting. I don't think that it's comparable to the original [The Getaway (1972)] by any stretch of the imagination, but I still think it stands on its own. I think it was a little bit more exciting than given credit for.
 The thing with Wyatt Earp (1994)] was, I think every guy in that picture did it because they wanted to walk down the streets of the OK Corral. That's part of history. That's a historical event that actually happened. I remember standing on top of the street with Dennis Quaid on the morning that we started to shoot this sequence and he said, "Let's face it, what we're about to do is the reason that we're all here." And he was right and we all knew he was. It was kind of ironic, if any of us had known how far it was down to the OK Corral, then we would have taken the horses . . . I might have even grabbed a cab. Having seen the movie, it was a long boring exercise in nothingness, so . . . But I still have to say that doing something that was historically accurate and had to do with history was very appealing to me.
(July 2006) He's shooting House (2008) in Lodz, Poland; staying in the Grand Hotel.
(January 2012) Starring on "Celebrity Big Brother" (2001) in the UK.
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