William H. Macy's resume reflects how versatile he is as an actor. He plays a priest in his latest film, The Sessions. On the Showtime series Shameless, you see Macy as a dysfunctional single father of six kids. He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Jerry Lundegaard in the distinguished Coen brothers' film Fargo. His acting career began in theater, working with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet.
In an interview with Fresh Air guest host Dave Davies, Macy talks about his television show, now in its third season, and his career in entertainment. He describes his Shameless character Frank Gallagher as a scamming alcoholic who is also hardworking, smart, and funny. The entire team, he says, hits their marks: the cast show up with their lines memorized, the writers thrive at throwing Gallagher off kilter, and Macy works to get him back on track to keep the audience believing he is indeed redeemable.
The actor is probably best known, however, for his role in Fargo, which he tells Fresh Air required some leg work as he had to convince the Coen brothers he was the man for the job. The role won Macy an Oscar. That award, he says, has changed his career by earning him a spot "at the grown-ups' table."
You can often tell when show guests are regular NPR listeners, and Macy was no exception.
"Hi, I'm Bill Macy," he said walking in. "I'm here to do [mellifluous voice] Ffffrrresh Air. Do you guys all say it like that?" I assured him that we do. So here he is, one passable Terry Gross impersonator loving NPR.