The actor makes his directorial debut with ‘Rudderless’ this week.
For being so well-known, William H. Macy is actually more of an indie star. Though his resume is dotted with blockbusters — think “Jurassic Park III” — it’s largely made up of cult classics like 1996’s “Fargo.” On Oct. 17, he made his feature film directorial debut with “Rudderless,” a moving musical film about a father dealing with the loss of his son. (The film was executive produced by Macy’s good friend, Chicagoan Patricia Cox.) The actor took a break from filming his Showtime series “Shameless” — set in Chicago — to talk about the new movie.
“My brother taught me to play guitar when I was 13 years old. He came back from college and I bought his old Gibson. I learned a very inappropriate song from him and I sang it at the school talent show — there wasn’t much teacher supervision; that changed after I performed. I went from this shy kid to BMOC because of one off-color song. … That was my introduction to showbiz and I never looked back.”
“I was out in LA and I [called writer/director] David Mamet in Chicago and said, ‘Come to LA to do some theater.’ He said, ‘Theater in LA? Let me think about that — no.’ So I had just gotten a motorcycle and a girlfriend, but I mothballed them both to come to Chicago.”
“I’ve been on some set or other my entire adult life, so I’ve watched many, many directors, but it’s a little like watching people swim in cold water: You know it’s going to be cold when you jump in but it still takes your breath away. … I have swallowed the hook, line and sinker on directing. I directed an episode of ‘Shameless’ a few weeks ago and if I thought ‘Rudderless’ was hard, directing one hour of TV was the most difficult thing of my life. It [moves] fast, but it’s counterbalanced by the fact that it’s on a set with a crew that’s been working together for five years. [They] work seamlessly — it’s like watching a middle-aged ballet.”
“I hope [audiences] have a good ride, I hope they’re entertained. I hope they have a good laugh and a good cry. I hope it makes them feel good about being human. It’s a film about redemption. When I finished making the film, I underestimated how deeply people would be affected by it.”
“I picked up the ukulele 10 or 15 years ago. For my 40th birthday, my wife [actress Felicity Huffman] gave me a beautiful Steinway, so I’ve taken some piano lessons. If you walk through our house, there’s a piano, a banjo, 16 ukuleles.”