Michael Madsen

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Michael Madsen
Michael Madsen2.jpg
Madsen in 2011
Born Michael Søren Madsen
(1957-09-25) September 25, 1957 (age 57)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Other names Maykl Madsen
Occupation Actor, producer, director, writer, poet, photographer
Years active 1982–present
Spouse(s) Jeannine Bisignano
Georganne LaPiere
Partner(s) DeAnna Madsen (1996–present)
Children 5 sons[1]
Relatives Virginia Madsen (sister)
Elaine Madsen (mother)

Michael Søren Madsen (born September 25, 1957) is an American actor, poet and photographer. He has appeared in more than 150 films, many of which have been independent films, though he has starred in central roles in such films as Reservoir Dogs, Free Willy, Vice, Donnie Brasco and Kill Bill, in addition to a supporting role in Sin City. Madsen is also credited with voice work in several video games, including Grand Theft Auto III, True Crime: Streets of L.A., DRIV3R, Dishonored, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and The Walking Dead: Season Two. In January 2012, Madsen was a housemate in the British reality show Celebrity Big Brother 9. In 2013, he voiced Finn O'Leary of "Mob of the Dead" Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

Early life[edit]

Madsen as a senior in high school, 1975

Madsen was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Elaine Melson, an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and author, and Calvin Madsen, a firefighter.[2] His parents divorced in the 1960s, and his mother left a career in finance to pursue a career in the arts, encouraged by Roger Ebert. His siblings are Cheryl Madsen, an entrepreneur, and Academy Award-nominated actress Virginia Madsen.[3] Madsen's paternal grandparents were Danish and his mother is of English, Irish, Scottish, German, and Native American ancestry.[4]

Madsen's acting career began at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, where he served as an apprentice under actor John Malkovich.


In 1982, Madsen was cast by Edward McDougal for the lead in an independent film, Against All Hope, his first movie. He then played a small role in the studio picture WarGames in 1983. That same year, he appeared in a bit part in Edward Zwick's 1983 television movie Special Bulletin. Soon after, Madsen was cast as a psychopathic gunman who took Mary Beth hostage in the Cagney and Lacey episode "Heat", which aired October 22, 1984. He moved to Los Angeles and appeared in other films, including as arrogant baseball player Bump Bailey in The Natural (1984), a deranged killer in Kill Me Again (1989), and as the tough but touching boyfriend of Susan Sarandon in Thelma & Louise (1991).

Then came a memorable role as the razor-wielding, sadistic ex-con and jewel thief "Mr. Blonde" in the bloody Quentin Tarantino crime story Reservoir Dogs. The film brought Madsen attention among critics and fans. During a scene in which Madsen's psychopathic character Mr. Blonde tortures a police officer, actor Kirk Baltz ad-libbed a line about being a father to a young child. Madsen, who himself had just become a father, was so upset that he found it difficult to finish the scene. On some copies of the film's DVD, as Baltz completes the line, a voice can be heard off-screen saying "Oh, no, no ..." The ad-lib exacerbated Madsen's original reluctance to do the scene, because of his real-life aversion to violence.[5]

Madsen was then cast in a variety of major studio films, including Free Willy, Mulholland Falls, Wyatt Earp, Species and with Johnny Depp and Al Pacino in the critically acclaimed Donnie Brasco. He was unable to play the role of Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction as he couldn't get out of rehearsals for the film Wyatt Earp, which he had just decided to do. The role instead went to John Travolta, relaunching his career. Madsen regretted the decision over a decade later.[6]

Since the mid-1990s, Madsen has appeared in lower-budget films released directly to video or television. Notable exceptions include his featured role in Tarantino's Kill Bill, in the James Bond adventure Die Another Day and in the film version of the Frank Miller graphic novel Sin City. He appeared in Scary Movie 4 in 2006 parodying Tim Robbins's character from War of the Worlds. He was also in the film 44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out in 2003.

In 2004, Tarantino discussed an idea for a movie starring Madsen and John Travolta as the Vega brothers.[7] The film would have seen Madsen and Travolta reprising their roles as Vic (Mr. Blonde) from Reservoir Dogs and Vincent from Pulp Fiction. However, in 2007, because of the age of the actors and the onscreen deaths of both characters, Tarantino said the project (which he intended to call Double V Vega) was "kind of unlikely now".[8]

In 2008, Madsen had a starring role as "The Gent" in Tarantino's Hell Ride, written and directed by Larry Bishop.

Madsen in 2006

Madsen has been in television series, including the short-lived Vengeance Unlimited and as "Don Everest" in the poker-themed ESPN series Tilt. He was in Michael Jackson's 2001 music video "You Rock My World" and has provided voice work for several video games, including Grand Theft Auto III, True Crime: Streets of L.A. and DRIV3R. He provided voice work for the movie version of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as Maugrim the wolf, captain of the White Witch's secret police.

He also provides narration for Animal Planet and is heard in the PlayStation 2 game Yakuza, where he voices the role of Futo Shimano, the violent and unforgiving leader of a Yakuza family. Madsen played Sam Spade in Yuri Rasovsky's Grammy-nominated sonic dramatization of The Maltese Falcon, which also features Sandra Oh and Edward Herrmann.

In August 2008, Madsen co-starred in Coma, a Web series on Crackle.[9]

Madsen in 2010

Madsen went to Mexico City to co-star in the 2009 boxing film The Kid: Chamaco with Martin Sheen and Kirk Harris for director Miguel Necoechea.

Madsen is also expected to reprise his role as Bob in Sin City 2, which is in pre-production and has a release date of August 22, 2014. Fellow cast members include Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, and Clive Owen.[10]

In September 2009, he filmed the comedy feature Magic Boys in England and Hungary, co-starring with Vinnie Jones, directed by Robert Koltai and written by screenwriter Ivo Marloh. The film was scheduled for general release in late 2012.

Madsen guest-starred in the final season of 24 in April 2010. He played Jim Ricker, an old friend of main character Jack Bauer.[11]

Let the Game Begin, opened in May 2010.[12] The film also features Adam Rodriguez and Stephen Baldwin. Madsen played the lead role in the independent horror film Infected.[13]

He is one of the stars in the western thriller The Sorrow with Kirk Harris, John Savage, newcomer Ryan Ballance and Yvonne Delarosa.

On 5 January 2012, Madsen entered the Celebrity Big Brother house. He finished in 4th place in the final of Celebrity Big Brother.

In February 2014, filming in Las Vegas was completed for the movie Death in the Desert, directed by Josh Evans and starring Madsen as casino mogul Ted Binion (named Ray in the film), Shayla Beesley as Sandra Murphy (played as Kim), Binion's live-in girlfriend, and Paz de la Huerta as Kim's friend Margo.[14][15] The screenplay was written by John Steppling (playwright), and inspired by the book Death in the Desert by crime writer Cathy Scott.[16]

In August 2014, he starred in the Kill Bill themed music video for Iggy Azalea ft. Rita Ora "Black Widow." [17]

Personal life[edit]

In 2002, Madsen was presented an award for his work with the Shriners Hospital for Children, and he gave his casting director friend Bruno Rosato a Porsche 928. In September 2009, Madsen announced his participation in the Love Ride 26[18] to help raise money for local charities and those less fortunate. Love Ride began in 1981 and has included celebrities Malcolm Forbes, Peter Fonda and Larry Hagman with musical entertainment from Robbie Krieger, David Crosby, Eric Burdon, Jackson Browne, Little Feat, Billy Idol, Bruce Springsteen, Dwight Yoakam, the Doobie Brothers, Sammy Hagar, Justin Bieber and others. The event was to have taken place on October 25, 2009 but was canceled two weeks before the event due to poor ticket sales and a decline in sponsorship and vendor support.

Madsen has done several films with Daryl Hannah. They include Kill Bill, The Last Days of Frankie the Fly, Shannon's Rainbow, Vice, Eldorado, as well as the film Garbage, in which they play friends called Daryl and Michael. Hannah took part in the 2010 fictional documentary Being Michael Madsen.

Madsen also has a line of hot sauces.[19]


Madsen has been writing for over 20 years. Madsen began his writing on match books, napkins and hotel stationery in between his time working on movie sets and traveling around the world. In 2005, 13 Hands Publications compiled all of his poetry and released The Complete Poetic Works of Michael Madsen, Vol I: 1995–2005. The original books released were Beer, Blood and Ashes (1995), Eat the Worm (1995), Burning in Paradise (1998), and the now out-of-print A Blessing of the Hounds (2002), 46 Down; A Book of Dreams and Other Ramblings (2004) and When Pets Kill (2005).

Madsen's friend and fellow actor Dennis Hopper described his poetry as a throwback to the Beat Generation: "I like him better than Kerouac: raunchier, more poignant, he's got street language, images I can relate to, blows my mind with his drifts of gut-wrenching riffs; this actor is a poet and he is cool, of course, he is Michael Madsen."[citation needed] Madsen has noted influences for his style of poetry as being Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski.

In 2008, Madsen was invited and appeared in Norway for the Norwegian translation and release of Burning In Paradise. In November 2010, he was the guest of honor for his poetry at the Crossing Border Festival at The Hague.

Another book of poetry, American Badass, was released on September 25, 2009. Madsen dedicated the book to the memory of his friend and Kill Bill co-star David Carradine.

His latest book, Expecting Rain, was released in October 2013 with an introduction by Jerry Hopkins.


Madsen is also an accomplished photographer. In 2006, he released his first book of photography entitled Signs of Life, published by 13 Hands Publications, which also contains new selections of his poetry. He dedicated the book to the memory of his friend and fellow actor Chris Penn, who starred with Madsen in Reservoir Dogs and Mulholland Falls.


  • Won Independent Firecracker Award for his book of poetry "Burning In Paradise" (1998).
  • Red Hen Press awarded Madsen with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his Complete Poetic Works in 2006.
  • September 20, 2007 won "Best Actor" award at the 23rd Annual Boston Film Festival for his role as Sean Kelleher in Strength and Honour.
  • Madsen won the 9th Annual Malibu International Film Festival award on April 6, 2008.
  • Madsen won "Best Supporting Actor" (from movie Along the Roadside) at the IFS Film Festival in Beverly Hills in March 2013.

TV and film[edit]

Selected filmography[edit]

TV series[edit]

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2001 Grand Theft Auto III Antonio "Toni" Cipriani (voice) Voice Over
2003 True Crime: Streets of LA Rafferty (voice) Voice Over
2004 Driv3r Detective John Tanner (voice) Voice Over
2005 NARC Detective Jack Frozenski (voice) Voice Over
2005 Yakuza Futo Shimano (voice) Voice Over
2006 Reservoir Dogs Vic Vega aka Mr. Blonde (voice) Voice Over
2012 Dishonored Daud (voice) Voice Over
2013 Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall Daud (voice) Voice Over
2013 Call of Duty: Black Ops II Michael "Finn" O'Leary "Uprising" DLC, on the zombies map "Mob of the Dead"
2013 Dishonored: The Brigmore Witches Daud (voice) Voice Over
2014 The Walking Dead: Season Two William Carver (voice) Voice Over


  1. ^ Celebrity Big Brother, January 2012
  2. ^ Bell, Mark (2007-02-23). "METHOD FEST TO PRESENT THE 2007 MAVERICK AWARD TO MICHAEL MADSEN". Film Threat. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  3. ^ Kennedy, Lisa (2007-02-21). "A strong role, an equal partner". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  4. ^ Bray, Tony (April 2004). "Virginia Madsen". TV Now. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  5. ^ Michael Madsen Home Page
  6. ^ Bhattacharya, Sanjiv (2004-04-18). "Mr Blonde's Ambition". Guardian (London). Retrieved 2006-12-27. 
  7. ^ Haddon, Cole (2008-08-07). "Michael Madsen Talks Hell Ride, Inglorious Bastards, and Sin City 2". Film.com. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  8. ^ Sciretta, Peter (April 7, 2007). "Quentin Tarantino talks Vega Brothers, the Pulp Fiction & Reservoir Dogs sequel/prequel". Slashfilm. 
  9. ^ "Michael Madsen, George Hamilton and Paul Ben-Victor Star in Coma, an Original Web Series Premiering On Crackle.com". 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  10. ^ Sin City 2 at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on 2009-04-15.
  11. ^ "24 Season 8 Episode 19 Press Release (10:00AM – 11:00AM)". 24 Spoilers. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  12. ^ Let the Game Begin at the Internet Movie Database
  13. ^ "Michael Madsen's Latest Low Brow Horror Gets 'Infected'". BloodyDisgusting. 
  14. ^ Photographer helped Madsen meet Sinatra | Las Vegas Review-Journal
  15. ^ Death in the Desert (2014) - IMDb
  16. ^ Kindest cut of all for cancer patients (scroll to end) | Las Vegas Review-Journal
  17. ^ "Iggy Azalea - Black Widow ft. Rita Ora". YouTube. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  18. ^ HISTORY « Love Ride 26
  19. ^ Frauenfelder, Mark (April 12, 2013). "Michael Madsen talks to Boing Boing about his hot sauce". Boing Boing. 
  20. ^ Rizzo, Lisa, Producer of new indie film tied to Cal Poly (WebCite archive), CalCoastNews (San Luis Obispo), November 23, 2012.
  21. ^ The Cast (WebCite archive), Metakwon Filmworks website, archived February 2, 2012
  22. ^ "Terror Tweets: Frozen Website Update and Rob Zombie's CSI: Miami Cast". DreadCentral. 
  23. ^ Julie. "Michael Madsen to Guest Star on 24". TV Fanatic. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 

External links[edit]