Forgotten Filmmakers

Michael Madsen – Forgotten Filmmakers

A look back at the career of Michael Madsen and why he’s not as big as he used to be.

Michael Madsen is an American actor born in Chicago in 1957. Known for his deep voice, menacing sense of humor and constant wearing of sunglasses, the actor has appeared in hundreds of films, ranging from amazing, to downright trash.

He is also the brother of actress Virginia Madsen and son of Emmy-winning Elaine Madsen. His son ( Christian Madsen ) is also an actor, likely most famous for his role in ‘Divergent’. He’s been on the top of Hollywood and he’s been on the very bottom. For a little over a decade, the later seems to fit him more. So, here’s a breakdown of his career, and why he deserves a comeback.

Start in Acting:

Madsen wasn’t always an actor. He had previously worked at a gas station, where he would sometimes serve celebrities. He later joined a theater production of ‘Of Mice and Men’ with John Malkovich and Gary Sinise. Which occured before any of the three were really famous at the time.

His first ImdB credit was the lead role in a 1982 film called ‘Against All Hope’, a movie about an alcoholic seeking redemption through religion. His other 80s work were pretty underwhelming. He appeared in a single episode of Miami Vice. He was one of the main characters in a show called ‘Our Family Honor’, whose cast included Ray Liotta, the show lasted a single season and currently holds a 6.5/10 star review on ImdB.

( Ray Liotta ) Photo by gdcgraphics

He also claims to have known legendary director Sergio Leone personally. The director apparently came across a video where Madsen talked about getting into a fight. He later invited Madsen to visit him for a weekend. The way it sounds they were both interested in working together, though Leone passed before that could happen.

This does however beg the quesiton; would Madsen have become famous through being in Leone’s last film? Would Madsen have become to “Big” to appear in Reservoir Dogs, a film which mind you had a next to 0 budget, causing him to never be a big deal in the first place? In a weird way, not being in that Sergio Leone film might have done good things to Madsen.

Rise in the 90s and 2000s:

The 90s were debateably the greatest period of Michael Madsen’s career. In 1991 he appeared in both ‘The Doors’, an autobiography about the band of the same name starring Val Kilmer, and Ridley Scott’s ‘Thelma and Louise’, where he met Harvey Keitel.

It turns out meeting Keitel at the set of Thelma and Louise would turn out be one of the most important events of Madsen’s career. Keitel acted as co-producer to Reservoir Dogs. He brought the idea to Madsen, who auditoned for the part of Mr. Pink, which ultimately went to Steve Buscemi. Tarantino instead offering him the role of Mr. Blonde. The role that solidified him a Hollywood career.

( Harvey Keitel ) Photo by David Shankbone

Reservoir Dogs pathed the way for Madsen to get future roles in movies like Species ( 1995 ), Donnie Brasco ( 1997 ), Michael Jackson’s ‘music video ‘You Rock My World’ ( 2000 ), Kill Bill vol. 1 and 2 ( 2003-2004 ) where he played a genuinally terrifying side antagonist and Sin City ( 2005 ). I would put Free Willy ( 1993 ) here, but comparing Mr. Blonde to the Free Willy dad, yeah I don’t think he got it from that.

It should also be noted that Madsen ever since Kill Bill, Madsen attained a very close working relationship with David Carradine. They continued to work together in films like: Being Michael Madsen, Hell Ride, Last Hour and Road of No Return to name a few. It seems his death had a negative impact on Maden’s life.

Pther frequent collaborators of Madsen include: Daryl Hannah, the Baldwin brothers, Vinnie Jones and Danny Trejo.

( Daryl Hannah ) Photo by Would Travel and Tourism Council

Other Works:

Believe it or not, Madsen is actually a renowned poet. Having won several international poetry awards around the world.

Like hot sauce? Why not try some of his his ‘American Badass’ hotsauce?. He offers: Habanero mustard, garlic serrano hot sauce and whisky BBQ sauce. I remember an interview ( which I can’t find anymore ) that he’d like his mustard to be sold at the Yankee stadium. I have not tried any of these sauces, nor is this sponsored in any way.

Speaking of American Badass, he has his down documentary ‘Michael Madsen: An American Badass Retrospective’ which has guest appearences from people like: Quentin Tarantino, Virginia Madsen, Ron Perlman, Robert Forster, Harry Dean Stanton and Daryl Hannah.

Though it doesn’t appear to be very active, Madsen even has his own website, which you can visit here:

His Downfall:

Up until about 2007 or so, Madsen had a fairly decent career. Sure, he was in no shortage of trash movies beforehand, but it’s until that point that he ( in my opinion ) had a respectable career. The Irish boxing film Strength and Honor ( 2007 ) won him best actor at the ‘ International Independent Film and Video Festival, or IIFVF for short. He was in Hell Ride ( 2007 ) which he stated “is what a motorcycle movie should be. He was in a Pierce Brosnan James Bond movie, Sin City, and had a small voiceover in one of the Chronicles of Narnia films. A genuinally respectable career, for the most part anyway.

Then this talented actor who lowered the average amount of ears per movie police officer to slightly less than 2, started making films like:

I’m in Love with a Church Girl ( 2013 ) with Ja Rule, yeah. The guy who sounds like an offbrand DMX, beefed with 50 Cent and did a commercial for a Greek deli? Yeah, that Ja Rule!

Megalodon ( 2018 ) another shark themed Asylum film where Madsen plays a captain with barely any screentime. I’m pretty sure they even credit him as “Very special guest” because they know Madsen shouldn’t be doing films of this low a quality, even with a decaying career as bad as his has become.

Unbelievable!!!!! ( 2019 ) Madsen plays the President as Snoop Dogg the astronaut consumes a subtsance closely affiliated with Amsterdam on the Moon or something.

( Snoop Dogg ) Photo by The Come Up Show

Piranhaconda ( 2012 ), the name really speaks for itself now don’t it?

Justin Bieber’s ‘As Long As You Love Me’ ft. Big Sean’, in Madsen’s defense, he had never heard of the guy when he got the offer, and I have a feeling he didn’t listen to any of his work until after he shot the video. Plus, he got to punch Bieber in the face, so there’s that.

Then he did Iggy Azalea’s ‘Black Widow’ ft. Rita Ora, a Kill Bill themed music video written by Katy Perry and in 2019 he did Nick le Juge’s ‘Dancing on Your Grave’, the two being at the very least semi-listen-toable.

Road of No Return with David Carradine ( barely includes either of them ) Spoiler alert: Not worth your time!

Long story short, he’s got a lot more black spots on his career, than gold spots.

Though I don’t believe the general audience knows about this, it’s still worth mentionintg Madsen has also been arrested two times for drunk-driving. The latest being in 2019, which allegedly gave him four days jail time along with a five year probation. Mind you by 19 his careed had already fallen a great league, yet this couldn’t have helped him out. Irresponsible yes, but let’s be honest, drunk-driving is not the worst crime a celebrity has publically gotten away with – by ANY stretch of the imagination.

The Bright Side ( and Walk of Fame Star!!!! )

Michael Madsen has a star of fame! He was actually the first celebrity to recieve the honor since the whole corona shabang happened, which meant not many people really got to show up. Personally I think Tarantino would have spoken some kind words for him. He’s undoubtedly one of, if not the most influential person in Madsen’s career, and he’s spoken at several big-name actors ceremonies before.

It’s not like Madsen never gets any good work in anymore ( even if most of his work these days boil down to critically slammed b-list movies nobody’s ever heard of ).

For starters, he’s done a great job in the world of voice acting His first ever noteworthy voice project was GTA III, back in 2001. More recent animations include: The Walking Dead: Season II, Bob’s Burgers, The Dishonored Trilogy and Green Lanter: First Flight.

He’s also appeared on a fair share of noteable TV shows, including: CSI: Miami, Blue Bloods, Big Time in Hollywood FL and Hawaii Five-0.

Revival Through Tarantino?

But there’s still hope for Madsen. Remember how I wrote about Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill? Well, Quentin hired him two more times afterwards. An extreemly brief cameo as a sheriff in ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ ( 2019 ).

( Quentin Tarantno ) Photo by Ipernity

Back in 2015 he was cast as Joe Gage in ‘The Hateful Eight’. Despite not being his very best role of all time, it was still a solid performance to say the least. It’s living evidence that despite being constantly cast in mediocre and straight up garbage films, that’s he a talented actor who deserves a better career than he has right now.

Do you also think Madsen deserved a shot to reclaim his spot on Hollywood? If so, lemme’ know in the comments below.

-The Screenwriter

Thumbnail by Aldo Gonzalez Kurdet Abi

All photos used follow this license –

All photos from Wikimedia Commons –

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