William H. Macy Talks Las Cruces International Film Festival, His Career

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LAS CRUCES — Audiences have seen actor William H. Macy appear onscreen in hits like “Fargo,” “Room,” “Magnolia” and “Shameless,” and now Las Crucens will get the chance to see him live. person at the Las Cruces International Film Festival where he will receive the 2022 award for Outstanding Achievement in Entertainment.

The seventh annual film festival will take place in person March 2-6 at Cineport 10. On day two, “Fargo” will be on the big screen followed by a Q&A with Macy’s.

The actor told the Sun-News that he enjoys participating in film festivals where independent films are celebrated. He described festivals as the “lifeblood” of independent films.

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“It’s all streaming now, but there are still indie movies on the way,” Macy said. “Plus, you meet a lot of people you wouldn’t otherwise meet. You go to a film festival, you meet a group of actors, supporters and directors. You get, if you have a fan base, you can meet them. It’s a good time. It’s like a blender.”

Ross Marks, executive director of LCIFF, explained that Macy has been on an ongoing list of potential artists to receive the festival’s Outstanding Achievement in Entertainment award for many years. This year he was the first choice.

Best Actor, Comedy: William H. Macy, "Shameless," Show time

“What we liked about him this year is that he’s kind of a hard-working actor. He really crossed the acting strings,” Marks said. “He wasn’t some kind of pretty-boy lead actor superstar, but a character actor who really earned the respect and the accolades that came his way.”

He said they felt Macy’s represented the festival well this year, with Las Cruces being a working-class community emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Macy explained that he caught the acting bug while performing in his high school production of “Camelot.” His character made people laugh and he was hooked. Performing in college and connecting with other writers and actors sealed the deal.

Writer, filmmaker and playwright David Mamet (“Glengarry Glen Ross”) notably served as Macy’s mentor.

Listen to The Reporter’s Notebook podcast: A conversation with trending reporter Leah Romero, who interviewed Macy for this story.

“He’s a wonderful teacher who knows everything there is to know about acting. And he was the first to say it’s a noble profession. He compared it to almost entering a religion. He said the theater is where people traditionally go to hear the truth,” Macy said. “He was very eloquent in dedicating us to finding the truth of the moment, and I never looked back.”

Macy’s professional career began in the early 1980s with various projects, but he credits his role in “Fargo” with launching his career.

In the Oscar-winning film, Macy plays Jerry Lundegaard whose need to get out of financial debt leads to the kidnapping of his wife and ultimately the deaths of several characters. Macy was nominated for Best Supporting Actor by the Academy. He said he knew the film was going to be a defining moment in his career, especially with such a “cracker jack actor” and production crew involved.

“I thought the script was just beautiful. And I knew it was going to change my life,” he said.

Minneapolis car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) finds that even the best-laid plans can backfire. "Fargo" (1996).

Asked about other projects that were particularly close to him, Macy mentioned his work on “Door to Door,” a made-for-TV movie about real-life salesman Bill Porter, who has cerebral palsy. He played the lead role in the film and was one of the screenwriters. It won two Prime Time Emmy Awards for acting and writing.

“I had never done anything like this where I was really subsumed into the character. I looked different, I sounded different, I spoke differently, I walked differently, everything was different,” said he said. “The test was, can you do all of this and still act well? And I think I did well.

The actor’s latest long-term project, “Shameless,” ended last year after airing 11 seasons. Macy said that during his time on that show, he was able to “relax” into his acting role. Knowing that he would be playing Frank Gallagher every day brought a certain ease to the job.

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“The thing lasted 11 years and I learned not to hold the game too tight. If you did a bad scene, well, you can come back tomorrow. I knew I was going to do this show for a long time and I really honed my craft and… held it more lightly and learned a lot.”

A new limited series he’s involved in, “The Dropout,” is set to premiere this spring. The show follows entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, who was convicted of multiple counts of wire fraud. Amanda Seyfried, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Laurie Metcalf are also part of the cast.

He also mentioned that he is currently in talks regarding another project although the details are still being finalized. But he plans to travel to southern Colorado to accept the LCIFF award in person in a few months. And it won’t be the first time the actor has visited New Mexico.

Macy was in northern New Mexico for about five weeks filming the 2007 movie “Wild Hogs” starring Tim Allen, John Travolta, Ray Liotta and Martin Lawrence. He described it as the “perfect job” with the beautiful mountain views, riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and the film being a comedy.

Martin Lawrence, Tim Allen and John Travolta star in

Macy said he and his wife Felicity Huffman recently moved to Little Woody Creek, Colorado from Los Angeles. She grew up in the area and they bought her childhood home several years ago. As part of his community involvement, he partnered with a nearby distillery, Woody Creek Distillery, and served as their spokesperson for several years. He often combines his passionate work with the distillery and his musical sense with the ukulele.

“We are also talking about starting a small group and I could do a few concerts. So at this old age, I become a rock and roller,” said Macy, 71.

LCIFF will be held in person this year at Cineport 10, with over 100 film screenings. Macy will not only participate in a Q&A on “Fargo,” but he’ll also hang out with students from New Mexico State University.

Leah Romero is the Trending Reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News and can be reached at 575-418-3442, [email protected] or @rromero_leah on Twitter.

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