Michael Madsen: A True American Badass


It’s easy to see how Michael Madsen is considered to be Hollywood’s iconic, badass bad guy.

Starring in movies like Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill, Donnie Brasco, Sin City, and Die Another Day, Madsen usually portrays a smooth operating villain that perfectly delivers lines like “Are you gonna bark all day little doggie? Or are you going to bite?”

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Michael Madsen. Photographed by Isaac Alvarez,

But these aren’t the only roles Madsen has played; people tend to forget that he also starred in films like Free Willy and Thelma and Louise. So this begs the question, which of the characters he’s played on the silver screen best represent his true character? I sat down with the man himself to answer the question on his fans’ minds.

“I was always in trouble all the time when I was younger,” Madsen explained. “I was that bad kid. My sister [on the other hand] would be taking acting lessons and I would be stealing cars. I ran with a bad crowd when I was young.”

Is that why Mr. Blonde was so iconic? Did it just come natural for you to channel this character without even breaking a sweat?

“When I did Reservoir Dogs, I wasn’t trying to draw on my childhood experiences.

I studied actors like Humphrey Bogart, Lee Marvin, and Robert Mitchum and I knew what they were doing.

I didn’t know how I knew, but I just figured it out,” Madsen continues, “They just seemed like they were just being themselves. Not much acting was involved; they were just being themselves. I always found it funny that nobody wants to even comment on the fact that I was the father in Free Willy 1 and 2.

There couldn’t be two different more opposite human beings on this earth for when I played Mr. Blonde and the father in Free Willy.”

Does this explain why those who look at Madsen only see Mr. Blonde or Budd from Kill Bill? It is something of a curiosity, since Madsen has demonstrated versatility and depth, throughout more than 170 films in which he has starred.

That versatility was notably acknowledged when he received multiple Best Actor awards for Strength and Honor, where he played a desperate father fighting to save his son’s life.

But there is much more to Madsen than even his acting career can reveal to us as evidenced by his poetry books Burning In Paradise, Signs of Life, and Expecting Rain, which have received strong international praise. For these he was awarded the Independent Firecracker Award as well as honored at the International Poetry Festivals in Genoa, Italy, and Mexico. His compilation book titled The Complete Poetic Works became an international bestseller.

Madsen points out that his mother, Elaine Madsen, had a lot to do with him becoming a writer. “My mother guided me to write and paint. I don’t know if I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for her. She had a dream that we could do something else in life; she made that dream a reality. I am extremely grateful for her and I want everyone to know that. I never would have read a book it if wasn’t for her.

My mother was the kind of person that you could ask her anything and she knew the answer to it. I would call her in the middle of the night and ask her all kinds of questions and she would know the answer to every one. She was always supportive and honestly, if I became a lumberjack she would have been happy with that.”

In addition to his writing and acting, Michael has dabbled in the role of entrepreneur. His American Badass Products include hot sauce, barbecue sauce, and spicy mustard that was inspired on a day his wife was making, “the best ribs you could imagine,” Madsen said. “I always told myself, one day I am going to make my own sauce and later I did.

I went to the market and picked out all the barbecue sauces that I liked and I wrote down the ingredients to figure out what was the reason they were so different from each other.”

So whether it is the Michael Madsen the actor, the entrepreneur, or the writer, he has clearly demonstrated his range as a man with many faces. Check out Madsen in the upcoming feature film Silver City in which he stars as famed casino owner Ted Binion, with Josh Evans directing and Robert Evans producing.

About author

This article was written by Michael Fields

Michael Fields is a copywriter that is always looking at the big picture. Continuously working on his craft, he reads and writes constantly to hone his ability as an exceptional writer. A pupil of the outstanding copywriter George Coakley, famous for the legendary pet rock campaign, Michael has learned to be more creative, exciting, and exceptional in every writing adventure thrown his way. "In our society, the only positive role models for women in the media are models and actresses. That's why I support Aparecio Foundation/Felix Magazine, because through education women can aspire to be more than just becoming the sex symbols of tomorrow."

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