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Patty Fantasia

Indie Icon Winner Michael Madsen Would Like to Be Dirty Harry’s Son

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Indie Icon Winner Michael Madsen Would Like to Be Dirty Harry’s Son

By Patty Fantasia



Indie Icon Winner Michael Madsen Would Like to Be Dirty Harry’s Son

Saturday, July 16th had already been a long day for actor Michael Madsen by the time we were able to do a private interview during the Las Vegas Film Festival at the Hilton Hotel where he had just been honored a few hours earlier by his friend actor/director Ash Adams with the Indie Icon Award.  The night before he’d hosted a party at The Bank inside the Bellagio and then at 4:15pm was a screening of “Vice” followed by the presentation of the award, a video tribute created by Adams and an audience Q&A.  Then, as if his schedule wasn’t jammed enough, the actor had a book signing at the Tempo Lounge before he was escorted to a room upstairs on the second floor looking tired, but happy as he was finally able to relax a bit.  Settled in a chair he was still signing books and DVD boxes before we started talking.

The award was presented by his sons at Adams’s suggestion and Michael was surprised when he realized that they’d left their seats in the theatre and joined him on stage. He said, his strong gravelly voice wavering, “That really got me.  I’ll never forget that as long as I live.”  The eldest, who is 23 years old didn’t make the trip, but the other boys aged 21, 17, 16, 13 and 5 all accompanied him and his wife to Las Vegas. “It totally took me by surprise.  I’m a sucker for stuff like that,” he admitted.

Photo credit: Patty Fantasia

Although he’s known for mostly playing tough guys in the 170+ films he’s made, Michael has enjoyed playing the few good guy roles he’s been offered, such as in “Free Willy” and “Thelma and Louise” when he can get them and producers don’t want him to kill people.  However, he does understand why he’s in demand for those types of parts and when I asked him about his dream role he said, “I would have liked to have done the Clint Eastwood pictures, like the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Westerns, you know.  The guy who doesn’t really have too much to say just looks at everybody and doesn’t have much to say.”  He misses the old Steve McQueen films like “The Getaway” and “Nevada Smith”.  “They don’t make scripts like that anymore.  They don’t make movies like that anymore.  There’s no John Sturgeses running around or Sergio Leones.  They’re gone, but if I could I think those would be the ones I’d like to make.  I think I could make “Son of Harry”.  I can regenerate the Dirty Harry Franchise,” he said adding that he could play Clint’s illegitimate son, who moves to San Francisco and wants to be a cop despite his father’s wishes.  “I’d have to shoot some bad guys. I don’t know.  I think I could get away with it,” he joked before concluding with a laugh, “How am I going to get in touch with Clint, you know?  He’s not going to call me back.”

Despite the number of films Michael has appeared in, it is only recently that he’s actually begun to watch some of them.  “For a long time I just never really wanted to see them,” he said explaining that he was disappointed when he saw himself in “The Natural” and “Thelma and Louise” despite the fact that he was perhaps the only supportive male character in the later film.  Instead he questioned his choice of profession and wondered if perhaps he should be doing something else.  Lately, he’s had a change of heart though, and has started watching older films he acted in 10-15 years ago and has decided from his perspective today that they were pretty good.  Of the ones he’s seen recently his favorite is “The Getaway”.  “It was really really fun to watch.  I remember I had a lot of fun making it, but I’d never seen it,” he related.

Photo credit: Patty Fantasia


The conversation turned to the 2008 cop drama “Vice” that was screened earlier.  “I remember I read like the first five pages and I said okay.  I understood it, but I flipped to the end and I read the ending and I hated the ending.  It was terrible,” he recalled.  The story got to him though.  “But I knew there was something there, you know.  I knew I could manipulate it.”  Madsen’s character was complicated and he believed that the casting being considered for other roles wasn’t right.  “If there was going to be any redemption in the man whatsoever he had to find out where he was wrong and in the end he’s got to be punished for it, let’s face it,” he said.  At that point he asked to rewrite the ending and bring in the cameraman and cast he wanted before agreeing to do the film.  “It just worked out.  I had to force them into it.  They just didn’t understand, especially the rain shot.  I really really wanted it to be raining at the end in the car,” he shared.  It was a fight that he won in the end when they agreed to spend the money for the metal tower that would create the desired effect.  “It’s a giant shower is what it is.  To make rain visible on film it has to be really really heavy or you can’t see it.  It’s better to actually feel it rain, cause if you’re in the rain then you don’t have to pretend it is raining.  They argued with me about that until the very last day.  I won the argument,” he said.

The actor also enjoyed working with co-star Daryl Hannah.  “It was really important for me to find a girl who would be believable as a cop.  You get some girls who are really beautiful playing a cop and whose going to fucking believe it.  It’s so hard to find a balance of the right femininity and the right woman and the right combination of the female personality to be believable as a vice cop.  I thought of her in the very, very beginning.  I wanted her, but I wanted her to have black hair though and I told her don’t do the blondie thing,” he continued.  Madsen went on to share that Daryl was also hurt the third day of filming when they were doing the shoot out and she fell down a big step behind her.  She landed on her tailbone and had to keep a big bag of ice pressed up against her during the rest of the shoot, which is why there are no shots of her behind or of her walking away.  Michael was impressed with her professionalism as well as her performance adding, “I love her.  She’s a good girl.”

After watching the tribute given to Madsen and interviewing him I’m happy to say that unlike the majority of gun toting tough guys he frequently plays, he is a down to earth family man who takes his work as an actor very seriously.  That said, I think he’d be great playing the son of “Dirty Harry”, so come on Clint why don’t you give Michael Madsen a call?

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