In Line: Michael Madsen


michael madsen

Oscar Track Record: Never Nominated

Michael Madsen feels like he’s been in almost everything since he started his career back in 1982.  The great character actor got his first role in a little film called Against All Hope (1982), an obscure film that will never come to define him.  Madsen’s definition as a performer comes in the form as Jimmy from Thelma & Louise (1991), Mr. Blonde in Reservoir Dogs (1992), and Budd in Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004).

Feeling like a Kevin Bacon of sorts, Madsen has appeared in more than 50 films over 30 years and has offered his abilities in different genres like the sci-fi cult-classic Species (1995) with Ben Kingsley, the family favorite Free Willy (1993), and the crime megahit Donnie Brasco (1997) with Al Pacino and Johnny Depp.

Brother of Academy Award Nominee Virginia Madsen, Michael’s award recognition has been virtually non-existent.  Madsen’s only form of recognition has come from Mark Mahon’s word-of-mouth Irish-hit Strength and Honour (2007) with Vinnie Jones.  The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007 and won Michael Madsen Best Actor from the Boston Film Festival.

Over the years, it’s been reported that Madsen has missed opportunities on some notable roles that may have propelled Madsen to super stardom.  He was offered that role of Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction (1994) but due to a scheduling conflict with his role in Wyatt Earp (1994), he had to pass on the role that went to John Travolta and garnered him an Oscar nomination.  He was also considered for the role of Sgt. Mike Horvath in Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1999) and lost out to Tom Sizemore.

I guess what we’re trying to figure out if Madsen is actually “In Line” for Oscar recognition?  Well, what works in his favor is the Supporting Actor category is tailor-made for veteran character actors and I can surely see Madsen as a future Supporting Actor nominee if given the right role.  Robert Forster gained recognition after years of solid work when he blew the doors off in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown (1997).  Perhaps if Tarantino can write a complex role, hopefully an interesting villainous one, could use all Madsen’s husky and dark talents as an actor.

According to his iMDB page, Madsen has ten films scheduled for 2013, not necessarily the best way to get noticed but if they’re not straight-to-DVD releases, maybe a career resurrection a la Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler could be in store.  Of all the roles, his most promising look like Kevin MacDonald’s The Witching Hour, where he’s listed as “The Detective,” as vague as they come.  His other is in I’m in Love with a Church Girl alongside Stephen Baldwin.

ADVICE: Mr. Madsen, I know you’ve looked to make your roles more sensitive, and you’ve even written poetry books that have been a big hit.  I feel that sensitivity from you as you showcased opposite Susan Sarandon in Thelma & Louise.  Get your agent to find a script where you can tap into something that will bring the audience to tears.  An effective, complex role full of heart could do the trick for you. I do believe people love you and want to reward you.  They just need the opportunity to do so.  In a year that embraced many veterans and a new type of dynamic for citations, Oscar might have missed the ball for Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.  You could be a future Supporting Actor nominee if you’re the standout in a big ensemble.  You’re nowhere near the front of the line but I’ll say you definitely are on line.


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Clayton Davis is the esteemed Editor and Owner of Born in Bronx, NY to a Puerto Rican mother and Black father, he’s been criticizing film and television for over a decade. Clayton is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association where he votes and attends the kick off to the awards season, the Critics Choice Awards. He’s also an active member of New York Film Critics Online, International Press Academy, Black Reel Awards, and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. Clayton has been quoted and appeared in various outlets that include The New York Times,, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter.