Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

An 'Everyman' Actor

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

An 'Everyman' Actor

Article excerpt

The name may not immediately ring a bell, but the minute you see the face he's as familiar as an old friend.

William H. Macy, one of the ensemble in the new comedy "Welcome to Collinwood," turns up in a variety of "everyman" roles, and then proceeds to make them his own. A small gallery of Macy characters:

* Jerry Lundegaard in "Fargo," the auto dealer who gets on the wrong side of the law.

* Sheriff Dent in "Happy, Texas," whose badge hides a heart looking for love.

* George Parker in "Pleasantville," a black-and-white sitcom dad who discovers a world of color.

* Walt Price, the unflappable director in David Mamet's comedy about moviemaking, "State and Main."

In his new incarnation, Mr. Macy is Riley, one of a group of hopeless sad sacks who plan to pull off the perfect crime.

Based on the Italian '50s comedy "Big Deal on Madonna Street," "Collinwood" is written and directed by brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, transferring the story to their home state of Ohio. The film has some rich - and fictional - slang used by the small-time criminals, and that was what first appealed to Macy.

"They suckered me with the made-up language," he recalls. "I asked if it was Cleveland terms."

Of course Macy, who has worked frequently with Mamet, enjoys colorful dialogue. "It's hard to get into [Mamet dialogue] but once you've learned it, it's the most fun you'll have coming out of your mouth. You meet actors who've done 'American Buffalo' and start running lines."

As it turned out, Anthony had been in a production of the play, and he and Macy began throwing lines at each other.

In "Collinwood," Macy's character spends the entire film carrying a baby in a small harness due to the fact that his wife is in prison. Indeed, his motivation for the robbery is to get the money to pay the fines to get his wife out. …

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