Born Michael Søren Madsen
(1958-09-25) September 25, 1958
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Other names Maykl Madsen
Occupation Actor, producer, director, writer, poet, photographer
Years active 1982–present
Spouse(s) Jeannine Bisignano
Partner(s) DeAnna Madsen (1996–present)
Children 5 sons
Michael Søren Madsen (born September 25, 1958) is an American actor, poet and photographer. He has appeared in more than 150 films, most of them small independent films, though he has starred in central roles in such films as Reservoir Dogs, Free Willy, Piranhaconda, Donnie Brasco and Kill Bill, in addition to a supporting role in Sin City. Madsen is also credited with voice work in several video games, including Grand Theft Auto III, True Crime: Streets of L.A., DRIV3R, Dishonored and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. In January 2012, Madsen was a housemate in the British reality show Celebrity Big Brother 9.
Madsen was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Elaine (née Melson), an Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker, poet and playwright, and Calvin Madsen, a firefighter. Madsen's mother left a career in corporate business to pursue a writing career. Madsen's paternal grandparents were Danish and his mother has English, Irish, Scottish, German, and Native American ancestry. His sister is actress Virginia Madsen, and he also has an older sister, Cheri.
In 1982, Madsen was cast by Edward McDougal for the lead in a small independent film, Against All Hope, his first movie. He then played a small role in the studio picture WarGames in 1983. That same year, he appeared in a bit part in Edward Zwick's 1983 television movie Special Bulletin. Soon after, Madsen was cast as a psychopathic gunman who took Mary Beth hostage in the Cagney and Lacey episode "Heat", which aired October 22, 1984. He moved to Los Angeles and appeared in other films, including as arrogant baseball player Bump Bailey in The Natural (1984), a deranged killer in Kill Me Again (1989) and as the tough but touching boyfriend of Susan Sarandon in Thelma & Louise (1991).
Then came a memorable role as the razor-wielding, sadistic ex-con and jewel thief "Mr. Blonde" in the bloody Quentin Tarantino crime story Reservoir Dogs. The film brought Madsen attention among critics and fans. During a scene in which Madsen's psychopathic character Mr. Blonde tortures a police officer, actor Kirk Baltz ad-libbed a line about being a father to a young child. Madsen, who himself had just become a father, was so upset that he found it very difficult to finish the scene. On some copies of the film's DVD, as Baltz completes the line, a voice can be heard off-screen saying "Oh, no, no ..." The ad-lib exacerbated Madsen's original reluctance to do the scene, due to his real-life aversion to violence.
Subsequently, Madsen was cast in a variety of major studio films, including Free Willy, Mulholland Falls, Wyatt Earp, Species and with Johnny Depp and Al Pacino in the critically acclaimed Donnie Brasco. He was unable to play the role of Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction as he couldn't get out of rehearsals for the film Wyatt Earp. As a result, the role instead went to John Travolta and relaunched his career. Madsen was still regretting this decision over a decade later.
Since the mid-1990s, Madsen has appeared more often in lower-budget films released directly to video or television. Notable exceptions include his featured role in Tarantino's Kill Bill, in the James Bond adventure Die Another Day and in the film version of the Frank Miller graphic novel Sin City. He appeared in Scary Movie 4 in 2006 parodying Tim Robbins's character from War of the Worlds. He was also in the film 44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out in 2003.
In 2004, Tarantino discussed an idea for a movie starring Madsen and John Travolta as the Vega brothers. The film would have seen Madsen and Travolta reprising their roles as Vic (Mr. Blonde) from Reservoir Dogs and Vincent from Pulp Fiction. However in 2007, because of the age of the actors and the onscreen deaths of both characters, he claimed that the project (which he intended to call Double V Vega) was "kind of unlikely now".
In 2008, he had a starring role as "The Gent" in Quentin Tarantino's "Hell Ride" that was written and directed by Larry Bishop.
Madsen has been in a few television series, including the short-lived Vengeance Unlimited and as "Don Everest" in the poker-themed ESPN series Tilt. He was in Michael Jackson's 2001 music video "You Rock My World" and has provided voice work for several video games, including Grand Theft Auto III, True Crime: Streets of L.A. and DRIV3R. He provided voice work for the movie version of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as Maugrim the wolf, captain of the White Witch's secret police.
He also provides narration for Animal Planet and is heard in the PlayStation 2 game Yakuza, where he voices the role of Futo Shimano, the violent and unforgiving leader of a Yakuza family. Madsen played Sam Spade in Yuri Rasovsky's Grammy-nominated sonic dramatization of The Maltese Falcon, which also features Sandra Oh and Edward Herrmann.
In August 2008, Madsen co-starred in Coma, a web series on Crackle.
Madsen is also expected to reprise his role as Bob in Sin City 2, which is in pre-production and has a release date of August 22, 2014. Fellow cast members include Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, and Clive Owen.
The actor appeared in Every Time I Die's music video "Kill The Music" and recorded a public service announcement for Deejay Ra's 'Hip-Hop Literacy' campaign, encouraging reading of screenplays by Tarantino.
In September 2009, he filmed the comedy feature Magic Boys in England and Hungary, co-starring with Vinnie Jones, directed by Robert Koltai and written by screenwriter Ivo Marloh. The film is scheduled for general release in late 2012.
On 5 January 2012, Madsen entered the Celebrity Big Brother house. He finished in 4th place in the final of Celebrity Big Brother.
In August 2012, Madsen appeared in the music video for Justin Bieber's single "As Long As You Love Me".
In February 2014, filming in Las Vegas was completed for the movie Only the Lonely, directed by Josh Evans and starring Madsen as casino mogul Ted Binion (named Ray in the film) and Shayla Beesley as Sandra Murphy (played as Kim), Binion's live-in girlfriend. The film was inspired by the book Death in the Desert by crime writer Cathy Scott.