LAS CRUCES – Audiences have seen actor William H. Macy appear on screen in hits like “Fargo,” “Room,” “Magnolia” and “Shameless,” and now Las Crucens will have the chance to see him in person at the Las Cruces International Film Festival where he will be presented with 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 the second day, “Fargo” will be on the big screen followed by a question-and-answer session with Macy.
The actor told the Sun news that he enjoys taking part in film festivals where independent films are celebrated. He described the festivals as the “lifeblood” of indie films.
More:William H. Macy to be in Las Cruces for 2022 film festival
“Everything’s streaming now, but there are still independent films being made,” Macy said. “Also, you get to meet a lot of people that you wouldn’t meet otherwise. You go to a film festival, you get to meet a bunch of actors and supporters and directors. You get, if you have a fan base, you get to meet them. It’s a great time. It’s like a mixer.”
Ross Marks, executive director of the LCIFF, explained that Macy has been on a standing list of possible entertainers to receive the festival’s Outstanding Achievement in Entertainment award for many years. This year he was the first choice.
“What we liked about him for this year is that he’s sort of a working man’s actor. He really came up through the ropes of acting,” Marks said. “He wasn’t kind of a pretty boy lead actor superstar, but a character actor who’s really earned the respect and awards that he’s been given.”
He said they felt Macy represented the festival well this year with Las Cruces being a working-class community working its way out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Macy explained that he caught the acting bug while performing in his high school production of “Camelot.” His character got laughs and he was hooked. Performing in college and connecting with other writers and actors sealed the deal.
Write, filmmaker and playwright David Mamet (“Glengarry Glen Ross”) in particular served as a mentor for Macy.
Listen to The Reporter’s Notebook podcast: A conversation with trending reporter Leah Romero, who interviewed Macy for this story.
“He’s a magnificent teacher who knows everything there is to know about acting. And he was the first guy who said it’s a noble profession. He likened it to going into almost a religion. He said that the theater is where people have traditionally gone 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 part in “Fargo” with launching his career.
In the Academy Award winning film, Macy plays Jerry Lundegaard whose need to get out of financial debt leads to his wife’s kidnapping and eventually several character deaths. Macy was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role by the Academy. He said he knew the film was going to be a landmark moment in his career, especially with such a “cracker jack cast” and production team involved.
“I thought the script was just magnificent. And I knew it was going to change my life,” he said.
When asked about other projects that were particularly special to him, Macy mentioned his work on “Door to Door,” a made-for-television movie about the real-life salesman Bill Porter, diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He played the lead role in the film and was one of the writers. He and won two Prime Time Emmy Awards for both acting and writing.
“I’d just never done anything like that where I was really subsumed into the character. I looked different, I sounded different, I talked different, I walked different, everything was different,” he said. “Test was, can you do all that stuff and still act well? And I think I did OK.”
The actor’s latest long-term project, “Shameless,” came to an end last year after airing 11 seasons. Macy said during his time on this show, he was able to “relax” into his role as an actor. Knowing he would be playing Frank Gallagher each day brought some ease to the work.
More:CMI professors’ pandemic-inspired film wins festival awards
“The thing ran for 11 years and I learned not to hold acting quite so tightly. If you did a bad scene, well, you get to come back tomorrow. I knew I was going to be doing this show for a long time and I really honored my craft and … held it more lightly and I learned a lot.”
A new limited series he’s involved with, “The Dropout,” is set to air sometime this spring. The show follows entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, who was convicted of several criminal 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 concerning another project although details are still being finalized. But he does plan to travel south from Colorado to accept the LCIFF award in person in a few months. And this won’t be the actor’s first time in New Mexico.
Macy was in northern New Mexico for about five weeks filming the 2007 movie “Wild Hogs” with Tim Allen, John Travolta, Ray Liotta and Martin Lawrence. He described it as the “perfect job” what with the beautiful mountain views, riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles and the film being a comedy.
Macy said he and wife Felicity Huffman recently relocated to Little Woody Creek, Colorado from Los Angeles. She grew up in the area and they purchased her childhood home several years ago. Part of getting involved in the community, he teamed up with a nearby distillery, Woody Creek Distillery, and has been their spokesperson for several years. He often combines his passionate work with the distillery and his musical acumen with the ukulele.
“We’re talking about putting together a little band too and I might do some gigs. So, at this ripe old age I’m becoming a rock and roller,” said Macy, age 71.
The LCIFF will be held in person this year at Cineport 10, with over 100 films screening. Macy will not only participate in a Q&A session about “Fargo,” but he will also spend some time with students at New Mexico State University.
Leah Romero is the trending reporter at the Las Cruces Sun-News and can be reached at 575-418-3442, [email protected] or @rromero_leah on Twitter.