William H. Macy
Macy in 2012
William Hall Macy Jr.

(1950-03-13) March 13, 1950 (age 74)
EducationAllegany High School
Alma materBethany College
Goddard College
Occupation(s)Actor, director, writer
Years active1975–present
(m. 1997)

William Hall Macy Jr. (born March 13, 1950) is an American actor. His film career has been built on appearances in small, independent films, though he has also appeared in mainstream films.[3] His major roles include those in Fargo (1996), Boogie Nights (1997), Air Force One (1997), Magnolia (1999), Mystery Men (1999), Jurassic Park III (2001), Cellular (2004), Bobby (2006), Wild Hogs (2007), and Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024).

Macy has won two Emmy Awards and four Screen Actors Guild Awards, while his performance in Fargo earned a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He had a recurring role on ER in the 1990s. From 2011 to 2021, he played Frank Gallagher, a main character in Shameless, the Showtime adaptation of the British television series. Macy has been married to actress Felicity Huffman since 1997.

Early life

Macy was born in Miami, Florida, and grew up in Georgia and Maryland.[4] His father, William Hall Macy Sr. (1922–2007), was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and an Air Medal for flying a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber in World War II; he later ran a construction company in Atlanta, Georgia, and worked for Dun & Bradstreet before taking over a Cumberland, Maryland-based insurance agency when Macy was nine years old. Macy's mother, Lois (née Overstreet; 1920–2001), was a war widow who met Macy's father after her first husband died in 1943. Macy has described her as a "Southern belle".[5][6][7]

Macy graduated from Allegany High School in Cumberland, Maryland, in 1968. He attended Bethany College in West Virginia, where he studied veterinary medicine.[3] A "wretched student" by his own admission, he transferred to Goddard College in rural Vermont, where he studied under playwright David Mamet, and graduated in 1972. He studied theater at HB Studio[8] in New York City.


After graduating from Goddard, Macy originated roles in a number of plays by collaborator David Mamet, such as American Buffalo[9] and The Water Engine.[10] While in Chicago in his twenties, he did a TV commercial. He was required to join AFTRA in order to do the commercial, and received his SAG card within a year, which for an elated Macy represented an important moment in his career.[11]

Macy spent time in Los Angeles before moving to New York City in 1980, where he had roles in over fifty Off Broadway and Broadway plays. One of his earliest on-screen roles was as a theater critic congratulating Christopher Reeve in 1980's Somewhere In Time, under the name W.H. Macy, so as not to be confused with the actor Bill Macy. Another memorable early performance was as a turtle named Socrates in the direct-to-video film The Boy Who Loved Trolls (1984).

Macy at the 62nd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2003

He had a minor role as a hospital orderly on the sitcom Kate & Allie in the fourth-season episode "General Hospital", and played an assistant district attorney in "Everybody's Favorite Bagman", the first produced episode of Law & Order. In both appearances, he was billed as W. H. Macy. He has appeared in numerous films that Mamet wrote and/or directed, such as House of Games, Things Change, Homicide, Oleanna (reprising the role he originated in the play of the same name), Wag the Dog, State and Main and Spartan.

Macy's leading role in Fargo helped boost his career and recognizability, though at the expense of nearly confining him to a narrow typecast of a worried man down on his luck.[12] Other Macy roles of the 1990s and 2000s included Benny & Joon, Above Suspicion, Mr. Holland's Opus, Ghosts of Mississippi, Air Force One, Boogie Nights, A Civil Action, Pleasantville, Gus Van Sant's remake of Psycho, Happy, Texas, Mystery Men, Magnolia, Jurassic Park III, Focus, Panic, Welcome to Collinwood, Seabiscuit, The Cooler and Sahara.

His work on ER and Sports Night has also been recognized with Emmy nominations.

In a November 2003 interview with USA Today, Macy stated that he wanted to star in a big-budget action film "for the money, for the security of a franchise like that. And I love big action-adventure movies. They're way cool."[13] He serves as director-in-residence at the Atlantic Theater Company in New York, where he teaches a technique called Practical Aesthetics. A book describing the technique, A Practical Handbook for the Actor (ISBN 0-394-74412-8), is dedicated to Macy and Mamet.

In 2007, Macy starred in Wild Hogs, a film about middle-aged men reliving their youthful days by taking to the open road on their Harley-Davidson motorcycles from Cincinnati to the Pacific Coast. Despite being critically panned, with a 14% "rotten" rating from Rotten Tomatoes, it was a financial success, grossing over $168 million.[14] The film also reunited him with his A Civil Action costar, John Travolta. In 2009, Macy completed filming on The Maiden Heist, a comedy that co-starred Morgan Freeman and Christopher Walken.

Macy in 2010

In June 2008, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce announced Macy and his wife, Felicity Huffman, would each receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the upcoming year. On January 13, 2009, Macy replaced Jeremy Piven in David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow on Broadway. Piven suddenly and unexpectedly dropped out of the play in December 2008 after he experienced health problems. Norbert Leo Butz covered the role from December 23, 2008, until Macy took over the part.[15] Dirty Girl, which starred Macy along with Juno Temple, Milla Jovovich, Mary Steenburgen and Tim McGraw, premiered September 12, 2010, at the Toronto International Film Festival.

In summer 2010, Macy joined the Showtime pilot Shameless as the protagonist, Frank Gallagher. The project ultimately went to series, and its first season premiered on January 9, 2011. Macy has received high critical acclaim for his performance,[16] eventually getting an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in 2014.

In the 2012 film The Sessions, Macy played a priest who helps a man with a severe disability find personal fulfillment through a sex surrogate.[17] He made his directorial debut with the independent drama Rudderless, which stars Billy Crudup, Anton Yelchin, Felicity Huffman, Selena Gomez and Laurence Fishburne. In 2017, he directed The Layover, a road trip comedy starring Alexandra Daddario and Kate Upton.

In 2015, he had a small role as Grandpa in the drama film Room, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. The film reunited him with his Pleasantville costar, Joan Allen.

Personal life

Huffman and Macy at a ceremony where each received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 7, 2012

Macy and actress Felicity Huffman dated on-and-off for 15 years[18] and married on September 6, 1997. They have two daughters.

Macy and Huffman appeared at a rally for John Kerry in 2004.[19][20] Macy plays the ukulele and is an avid woodturner. He has appeared on the cover of Fine Woodworking's special edition, Wood Turning Basics[21] and was featured in an article in the April 2015 issue of American Woodturner (American Association of Woodturners). He is a national ambassador for the United Cerebral Palsy Association.[22]

Since shooting the film Wild Hogs, Macy has had a strong interest in riding motorcycles.[17]

Varsity Blues scandal

Main article: Varsity Blues scandal

In March 2019, it was reported that Macy and Huffman had agreed to pay someone $15,000 to take a college entrance exam for their daughter Sophia. Huffman was indicted on fraud and conspiracy charges as part of a wider federal investigation of college admissions bribery. For undisclosed reasons,[23] no charges were filed against Macy.[24]

On September 13, 2019, a federal judge in Boston sentenced Huffman to 14 days in federal prison,[25] of which she served 10 days.[26] As of October 2020, Huffman completed the other parts of her sentence, which included 250 hours of community service and a year of supervised release.[27]



Year Title Role Notes
1980 Somewhere in Time Critic Credited as W.H. Macy
Foolin' Around Bronski Credited as W.H. Macy
1983 Without a Trace Reporter Credited as W.H. Macy
WarGames NORAD Officer Uncredited
1985 The Last Dragon J. J. Credited as W.H. Macy
1987 Radio Days Radio Actor Credited as W.H. Macy
House of Games Sgt. Moran Credited as W.H. Macy
1988 Things Change Billy Drake Credited as W.H. Macy
1991 Homicide Tim Sullivan
Shadows and Fog Cop with Spiro Credited as W.H. Macy
1993 Twenty Bucks Property Clerk
Benny & Joon Randy Burch
Searching for Bobby Fischer Petey's Father
1994 Being Human Boris
The Client Dr. Greenway
Dead on Sight Steven Meeker
Oleanna John
1995 Murder in the First D.A. William McNeil
Evolver Evolver Voice, uncredited
Roommates Doctor Uncredited cameo
Tall Tale Railroad Magnate Uncredited cameo[28]
Above Suspicion Pros. Atty. Schultz Also writer
Mr. Holland's Opus Vice-Principal Gene Wolters
1996 Down Periscope Commander Carl Knox
Fargo Jerry Lundegaard Nominated for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor[29]
Hit Me Policeman
Ghosts of Mississippi Charlie Crisco
1997 Colin Fitz Lives! Mr. O'Day, Colin Fitz
Air Force One Major Caldwell
Boogie Nights Little Bill Thompson
Wag the Dog CIA Agent Charles Young
1998 Jerry and Tom Karl
Pleasantville George Parker
Psycho Arbogast
The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue Justin Voice, direct-to-video[30]
A Civil Action James Gordon
1999 Happy, Texas Sheriff Chappy Dent
Mystery Men The Shoveler
Magnolia Quiz Kid Donnie Smith
2000 Panic Alex
State and Main Walt Price
2001 Jurassic Park III Paul Kirby
Focus Lawrence "Larry" Newman
2002 Welcome to Collinwood Riley
2003 The Cooler Bernie Lootz
Stealing Sinatra John Irwin
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls Narrator Voice, documentary
Seabiscuit Tick Tock McGlaughlin
2004 Spartan Stoddard
In Enemy Hands Chief of Boat Nathan Travers
Cellular Sgt. Bob Mooney
2005 Sahara Admiral James Sandecker
Edmond Edmond Burke
Thank You for Smoking Senator Ortolan K. Finistirre
2006 Doogal Brian the Snail Voice[30]
Choose Your Own Adventure: The Abominable Snowman Rudyard North Voice, direct-to-video; also executive producer
Bobby Paul
Inland Empire Announcer
Everyone's Hero Lefty Maginnis Voice[30]
2007 Wild Hogs Dudley Frank
He Was a Quiet Man Gene Shelby
2008 The Deal Charlie Berns Also writer
Bart Got a Room Ernie Stein
The Tale of Despereaux Lester Voice[30]
2009 The Maiden Heist George McLendon
Shorts Dr. Noseworthy
2010 Marmaduke Don Twombly
Dirty Girl Ray
2011 The Lincoln Lawyer Frank Levin
Portraits in Dramatic Time Himself
2012 The Sessions Father Brendan
2013 A Single Shot Pitt
Trust Me Gary
2014 The Wind Rises Satomi Voice
Ernest & Celestine Head Dentist Voice[30]
Rudderless Trill (Proprietor) Also writer, director, and executive producer
Two-Bit Waltz Carl
Cake Leonard
2015 Walter Dr. Corman
Dial a Prayer Bill
Stealing Cars Philip Wyatt
Room Robert "Grandpa" Newsome
2016 Blood Father Kirby
2017 The Layover Director
Krystal Wyatt Also director
2023 Maybe I Do Sam
2024 Ricky Stanicky[31] Ted Summerhayes
Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Trevathan
TBA On Fire Jack Buck


Year Title Role Notes
1978 The Awakening Land Will Beagle Miniseries; credited as W.H. Macy
1982 Another World Frank Fisk Credited as W.H. Macy
1983 The Cradle Will Fall Ben Duffy Television film, credited as W.H. Macy
Sitcom Chip Gooseberry Television film, credited as W.H. Macy
1984 The Boy Who Loved Trolls Socrates the Turtle Voice, television film; credited as W.H. Macy
The Dining Room Arthur, Charlie, Architect, Billy, Nick, Fred, Tony, Standish Television film, credited as W.H. Macy
1985 Joanna Napoleon Flipper Short film; credited as W.H. Macy
Hometown Loring Dixwell Episode: "Mary's Yen"; credited as W.H. Macy
1985–1988 Spenser: For Hire Efrem Connors 3 episodes; credited as W.H. Macy
1986 Kate & Allie Carl Episode: "General Hospital"; credited as W.H. Macy
1987 The Equalizer Dr. Spaulding Episode: "Hand and Glove"; credited as W.H. Macy
Alive from Off Center Uncredited Episode: "As Seen on TV"
1988 The Murder of Mary Phagan Randy Miniseries; credited as W.H. Macy
Lip Service Farmer Television film; also director; credited as W.H. Macy
1989 Tattingers Myron Episode: "Tour of Doody"; credited as W.H. Macy
1990 ABC Afterschool Specials Store Clerk Episode: "All That Glitters"
1990–1992 Law & Order John McCormack, Powell 2 episodes
1992 In the Line of Duty: Siege at Marion Ray Daniels Television film
Civil Wars Donald Patchen Episode: "Denise and De Nuptials"
A Private Matter Psychiatrist Television film
The Water Engine Charles Lang Television film
A Murderous Affair: The Carolyn Warmus Story Sean Hammel Television film
The Heart of Justice Booth Television film
1993 Bakersfield P.D. Russell Karp Episode: "Cable Does Not Pay"
L.A. Law Bernard Ruskin Episode: "Rhyme and Punishment"
1994–2009 ER Dr. David Morgenstern 31 episodes
1994 Texan Doctor TV short
1995 In the Shadow of Evil Dr. Frank Teague Television film
Mystery Dance Bob Wilson Episode: "Episode #1.1"
1996 Andersonville Col. Chandler Miniseries
The Writing on the Wall Petrocelli Television film
1998 Superman: The Animated Series The Director Voice, episode: "Where There's Smoke"[30]
The Con Bobby Sommerdinger Television film; also writer
The Lionhearts Leo Lionheart Voice, 13 episodes
King of the Hill Dr. Rubin Voice, episode: "Pregnant Paws"
Hercules Jorgen Svenson, Sven Jorgenson Voice, episode: "Hercules and the Twilight of the Gods"
1999 Frasier Ralph Episode: "Good Samaritan"[30]
A Slight Case of Murder Terry Thorpe Television film; also writer
The Wild Thornberrys Skoot Voice, episode: "On the Right Track"[30]
1999–2000 Batman Beyond Aaron Herbst, Karros Voice, 2 episodes[30]
1999–2000 Sports Night Sam Donovan 6 episodes
1999 The Night of the Headless Horseman Ichabod Crane Television film[30]
2001 Nature Narrator Episode: "Polar Bear Invasion"
2002 Door to Door Bill Porter Television film; also writer
It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie Glenn Television film
2003 Out of Order Steven Miniseries
2004 Reversible Errors Arthur Raven Television film
The Wool Cap Charlie Gigot Television film; also writer and producer
2006 The Simpsons Himself Voice, episode: "Homer's Paternity Coot"
Nightmares and Dreamscapes Clyde Umney, Sam Landry, George Demmick Miniseries
2006–2007 Curious George Narrator Voice, 30 episodes (season 1)
2007 The Unit President of the United States Episode: "The Broom Cupboard"
2008 Family Man Todd Becker Television film; also writer and executive producer
2011–2021 Shameless Frank Gallagher Main role, 11 seasons; directed 3 episodes, wrote 1 episode
2011 Versailles Bill 3 episodes
2022 The Dropout Richard Fuisz 5 episodes
2024 The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Himself Episode: "Bitter Pill to Swallow"

Awards and nominations

See also: List of awards and nominations received by William H. Macy


  1. ^ Rebecca Flint Marx (2014). "William H. Macy – Biography". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 6, 2014. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
  2. ^ "William H. Macy – Biography". Biography.com. A&E Television Networks, LLC. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
  3. ^ a b Robert, Abele (July 2001). "Interview with William H. Macy". Maxim: 84.
  4. ^ Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 2004
  5. ^ "William H. Macy Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
  6. ^ "William H. Macy Biography (1950–)". Film Reference.
  7. ^ "MACY'S ROOTS RUN DEEP INTO PASCAGOULA". Sun Herald. April 11, 2004. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  8. ^ HB Studio Alumni
  9. ^ Dettmer, Roger (October 25, 1975). "'Buffalo' only fragments of the intended". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. p. 1:14. Archived from the original on February 9, 2019. Retrieved February 9, 2019 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  10. ^ Harris, Andrew B. (1994). Broadway Theatre. Routledge. p. 98. ISBN 0-415-10520-X. Retrieved April 16, 2008. By 1975, David Mamet and the St Nicholas Theater had settled in Chicago.
  11. ^ Moynihan, Rob (January 19, 2015). "How I Got My SAG-AFTRA Card", TV Guide. p. 8
  12. ^ McIntyre, Gina (January 8, 2004). "William H. Macy, actor". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles, California. Archived from the original on October 9, 2007. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
  13. ^ "William H. Macy wants to be action hero". USA Today. November 23, 2003. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
  14. ^ Wild Hogs, Rotten Tomatoes, Retrieved 07/28/10
  15. ^ Silverman, Stephen M. (December 18, 2008). "Jeremy Piven Abruptly Abandons Broadway Play". People. Des Moines, Iowa.
  16. ^ Stransky, Tanner (December 10, 2010). "William H. Macy takes it off". Entertainment Weekly. No. 1132. Des Moines, Iowa: Meredith Corporation. p. 22.
  17. ^ a b Cooper, Chet (2013). "William H. Macy Interview". Ability. Santa Ana, California. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  18. ^ "Huffman's a hard-working 'lazy' actor". TribLive. February 23, 2015. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  19. ^ "All Star Concert Benefit for Presidential Candidate John Kerry". DailyCeleb.com. July 6, 2004. Archived from the original on October 15, 2007.
  20. ^ "William H Macy's Federal Campaign Contribution Report". Newsmeat. Archived from the original on July 16, 2006.
  21. ^ "Wood Turning Basics". FineWoodworking. April 23, 2007. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  22. ^ "UCP Announces William H. Macy as UCP Ambassador". National Ambassadors (Press release). United Cerebral Palsy. January 14, 2003. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007.
  23. ^ Winton, Richard (March 13, 2019). "Why wasn't William H. Macy charged in college admissions scandal that targeted wife Felicity Huffman?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  24. ^ Durkin Richer, Alanna; Binkley, Collin (March 12, 2019). "Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman Among Those Charged in Sweeping College Admissions Bribery Scandal". Time. Archived from the original on March 12, 2019. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
  25. ^ Jancelewicz, Chris (September 16, 2019). "Felicity Huffman sentenced to 14 days in jail for her role in college bribery scandal". Global News. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  26. ^ Fieldstadt, Elisha; Kaplan, Ezra (October 25, 2019). "Felicity Huffman released from prison on 11th day of 14-day sentence". NBC News. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  27. ^ Foussianes, Chloe (October 26, 2020). "How Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy Became Involved the College Admissions Scandal". Town and Country. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  28. ^ "William H. Macy". TV.com. Archived from the original on March 8, 2019. Retrieved May 22, 2016.
  29. ^ "The 69th Academy Awards | 1997". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. October 5, 2014. Archived from the original on October 9, 2020.
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "William H Macy (visual voices guide)". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved August 6, 2023. A green check mark indicates that a role has been confirmed using a screenshot (or collage of screenshots) of a title's list of voice actors and their respective characters found in its opening and/or closing credits and/or other reliable sources of information.
  31. ^ ‘Ricky Stanicky’ Rounds Out Cast With William H. Macy, Anja Savcic, Andrew Santino & Lex Scott Davis