Michael Madsen
Birth Date:
September 25, 1958
Birth Place:
Chicago, Illinois, USA
6' 2
Famous for:
His role in 'Reservoir Dogs' (1992)
Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, Illinois
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Reservoir Dogs


An actor who is particularly well known for his "tough guy" image on screen, Michael Madsen starred as sadistic psychopath Mr. Blonde in “Reservoir Dogs” (1992), assassin Press Lennox in the "Species" films (1995; 1998), Mafia hood Sonny Black in "Donnie Brasco" (1997), and the nemesis of Uma Thurman's in the "Kill Bill" films (2003; 2004). Moviegoers could also catch him as the foster father in the "Free Willy" movies (1993; 1995) and as a former Irish boxer in the award-winning film "Strength and Honour" (2007). As for his upcoming film project, Madsen, who played Hartigan's (played by Bruce Willis) partner Bob in "Sin City" (2005), will reprise the role for its upcoming sequel, "Sin City 2."

“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.” Michael Madsen

The 6' 2" actor is also a poet. He has written five books of poetry: "Beer, Blood, and Ashes," "Eat the Worm," "46 Down: A Book of Dreams and Other Ramblings," "Burning in Paradise" (won the Independent Firecracker Award for Poetry in 1998), and "A Blessing of the Hounds." He also released "The Complete Poetic Works of Michael Madsen 1995-2005.”

Madsen has married three times and is the proud father of five. He recently (June 2008) made headlines when he was forcibly hospitalized after hysterically screaming and shouting in a London hotel.

“I'm a leading man trapped inside a bad guy's body.” Michael Madsen

Michael Joe

Childhood and Family:

Son of Elaine, an Emmy-winning poet, producer and playwright who often works for PBS, and Calvin Madsen, a retired firefighter, Michael Joe Madsen was born on September 25, 1958, in Chicago, Illinois. He is the older brother of actress Virginia Madsen (born on September 11, 1961) and they acted together in "The Florentine" and "Ballad of the Nightingale." He also has an older sister named Cheri who owns a restaurant with her husband.

When Madsen was nine, his parents divorced and he frequently had to change schools. He began to steal and was sent to jail a few times before eventually being bitten by the acting bug. He studied the craft at Steppenwolf Theatre, in Chicago, Illinois.

“Kids are a great excuse for you to stop acting like one.” Michael Madsen

Madsen's first wife was actress Georganne LaPiere (born on September 7, 1951), the half sister of Cher. He then married actress Jeannine Bisignano (born on April 28, 1957) and had two sons with her, Christian (born in 1990) and Max (Max's godfather is Madsen's good friend Harvey Keitel). Following their divorce, Madsen married his present wife, actress DeAnna Morgan, on April 15, 1996, in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. They have 3 children, Calvin Michael Madsen (born on November 5, 1997), Hunter Lee Madsen (born on May 20, 1995), and Cody (father: Brian Setzer; mother: DeAnna Morgan).

Madsen, who is often confused with his friend, actor Tom Sizemore, is good friends with Dennis Hopper, Harry Dean Stanton and Nick Nolte. In 2002, he was presented with an award for his work with the Shriners Hospital For Children.

“Encourage your kids' artistic side. Toughen up everything else.” Michael Madsen

Strength and Honour


Before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a serious acting career, Michael Madsen painted houses, repaired cars, worked as an orderly in a hospital and pumped gas. He began his acting career at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago where he served as an apprentice under John Malkovich. He was encouraged by Sergio Leone to pursue a career in acting after the director saw him in a Steppenwolf Theater production of "Carnal Knowledge," and in his early 20s the aspiring actor relocated to The City of Angels.

In the early days of his acting career, Madsen, who points to Robert Mitchum as his idol and role model, considered changing his name to Michael Hood. He landed his feature acting debut in the box office hit suspense film starring Matthew Broderick, "WarGames" (1983), directed by John Badham. That same year, he appeared in his first TV-movie, Edward Zwick's Emmy-winning "Special Bulletin" on NBC.

Madsen made his TV series debut with ABC's dramatic television series "Our Family Honor" (1985). He made his TV miniseries debut on the ABC production of Herman Wouk's 1978 novel, "War and Remembrance" (1988) alongside his role model and idol, Robert Mitchum. He also portrayed a psychotic killer and Joanne Whalley's violent and jealous boyfriend in John Dahl's action film, "Kill Me Again" (1989), opposite Val Kilmer.

Entering the 1990s, Madsen co-starred as Jimmy Lennox, the short tempered boyfriend of Susan Sarandon's Louise, in Ridley Scott's road movie "Thelma & Louise" (1991).

Director Quentin Tarantino, who was impressed by Madsen's performance as a psychotic killer in "Kill Me Again" (1989), handed him a breakthrough screen role as Mr. Blonde in the director's debut feature film, "Reservoir Dogs" (1992). Madsen later revealed that he was very uncomfortable filming the torture scenes in the film.

Following his breakout role, Madsen played the foster father in Simon Wincer's hit family movie, "Free Willy" (1993), and would later reprise the role in "Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home" (1995).

“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!'” Michael Madsen

Meanwhile, Madsen was offered the role of Vincent Vega in Quentin Tarantino's Academy Award-winning film “Pulp Fiction” (1994), but turned it down because he couldn't get out of rehearsal for Lawrence Kasdan's semi-biographical film about the Western lawman, "Wyatt Earp" (1994; starring Kevin Costner), in which he had a featured role as the title role's older brother Virgil Earp. He was also offered the role of George Clooney's Seth Gecko in Robert Rodriguez's action/horror film written by Quentin Tarantino, “From Dusk Till Dawn” (1996), but couldn't accept due to scheduling conflicts.

During this time, Madsen co-starred with Natasha Henstridge, Ben Kingsley, and Forest Whitaker in Roger Donaldson's science fiction thriller "Species" (1995). He would later recreate the role for the sequel "Species II" (1998).

1997 saw Madsen associate produce and star in the HBO movie "Executive Target" (1997). He also delivered a strong turn as Mafia hood Sonny Black, who is famous for having allowed FBI agent Donnie Brasco (played by Johnny Depp) to become an associate of the Bonanno crime family and nearly inducting him into the Mafia, in Mike Newell's successful crime/drama/thriller film, "Donnie Brasco," which also stars Al Pacino.

From 1998 to 1999, Madsen starred in the ABC crime drama series "Vengeance Unlimited," playing Mr. Chapel, a mysterious and pragmatic character keen on serving justice to those who have been ignored by the law. During this time, he was also considered for the role of Sergeant Mike Horvath in Steven Spielberg's blockbuster war film “Saving Private Ryan” (1998), which eventually went to Madsen's friend, Tom Sizemore.

In 2001, Madsen appeared in the music video for Michael Jackson's "U Rock My World" and narrated "Animal Precinct," a reality series that aired on the Animal Planet cable channel. He also voiced a central character in the video games “Driv3r” and “Grand Theft Auto III.”

Madsen returned to series work as a co-star in the short-lived CBS cop series "Big Apple" (2001), playing former police informant/contract killer Terry Maddock. Afterward, he was seen in the James Bond feature "Die Another Day" (2002) and Quentin Tarantino's film "Kill Bill," which was released in two separate volumes (in Autumn 2003 and Spring 2004) due to its running time of approximately four hours. In the epic-length revenge drama, he portrayed Bill's (played by David Carradine) brother Budd, code-named "Sidewinder," another former Deadly Viper who shoots Uma Thurman's The Bride and buries her alive.

In 2005, Madsen starred as Hartigan's (played by Bruce Willis) partner Bob in Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez's film adaptation of comic book icon Frank Miller's "Sin City," co-starred with Dennis Hopper in the independent horror/thriller "Hoboken Hollow," and voiced Maugrim in the Disney film version of C. S. Lewis' children's novel, "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

That same year, he advertised the Toyota Verso 7 Seater on the small screen, appeared in a music video, “Every Time I Die - Kill the Music,” and hosted "A Very Quentin Christmas," a marathon of Tarantino's films for the Starz! network. For his past, present and ongoing commitment to independent film, he was presented with the inaugural Rebel Award by good friend/actor Harvey Keitel at Rebelfest 2005, in Toronto.

After starring as vampire hunter Vladimir in Uwe Boll's big-screen version of the video game "BloodRayne" (2006; with Kristanna Loken, Ben Kingsley, and Billy Zane), Madsen parodied Tim Robbins' character from "War of the Worlds" in David Zucker's fourth film of the "Scary Movie" franchise, "Scary Movie 4" (2006). He also co-starred with Chevy Chase in "Funny Money" (2007) and won the Best Actor award at the Boston Film Festival for his solid turn as Sean Kelleher, a former Irish boxer, in Mark Mahon's boxing film, "Strength and Honour" (2007).

The son to a poet mother, Madsen has written five books of poetry: "Beer, Blood, and Ashes," "Eat the Worm," "46 Down: A Book of Dreams and Other Ramblings," "Burning in Paradise" (won the Independent Firecracker Award for Poetry in 1998), and "A Blessing of the Hounds" (2002; Quentin Tarantino wrote the introduction). All of them are included in his book, "The Complete Poetic Works of Michael Madsen 1995-2005.”

“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 Brando made some clinkers.” Michael Madsen


  • Temecula Valley International Film Festival: Career Achievement, 2007

  • Boston Film Festival: Best Actor, "Strength and Honour," 2007

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