William H. Macy is an award-winning American actor, perhaps most known for his performance in the film Fargo, but most significantly for his roles in different independent films.
He was born in Miami, Florida on March 13, 1950. He initially studied veterinary medicine at Bethany College of West Virginia, before moving to Goddard College and getting involved in theater. In 1971, he moved to Chicago, later starting the St. Nicholas Theater Company with, among others, friend David Mamet. Macy would star in the company’s productions of Mamet’s plays, such as American Buffalo.
In 1980, Macy moved to New York, where he appeared in many Broadway and off-Broadway productions. He also appeared in films that Mamet directed, such as Things Change, House of Games, Homicide and Oleanna. In 1996, Macy appeared in perhaps his most known role yet, as Jerry Lundegaard—an indebted car dealer who hires someone to kidnap his wife so he can claim ransom from his wealthy father-in-law—in the film Fargo. His performance helped boost his career, and earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Macy has also appeared in films such as 1997’s Air Force One and Wag the Dog; 1998’s Pleasantville; 1999’s Happy, Texas and Magnolia, 2001’s Jurrasic Park III, 2003’s Seabiscuit, 2004’s In Enemy Hands, and 2006’s Bobby.
Macy is also known for his role as Dr. David Morgenstern in the medical drama ER. One of his most famous lines, “set the tone,” is still being used in the program as a means of passing the torch. He won two Emmys and one Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance in the television film Door to Door, which is based on the story of Bill Porter, a door-to-door salesman with cerebral palsy. He is currently a director-in-residence at the Atlantic Theater Company in New York.