William H. Macy

An astonishing character actor-turned-lead on stage and screen, William H. Macy was at his best when he was humanizing despairing, imperfect people trying to keep their head up while their world disintegrates. Macy was a longtime collaborator of playwright and director David Mamet, originating the role of Bobby in Mamet's famed "American Buffalo" on the Chicago stage in 1975, as well as appearing in Mamet's films throughout his career. Additionally, he was giving memorable performances in several films by another boundary-pushing filmmaker, Paul Thomas Anderson. But of the top names in American independent film, it was the Coen Brothers who brought Macy his ultimate breakout with "Fargo" (1996), in which he gave an unforgettable performance as a car salesman whose very fallible murder plan goes awry. From his Oscar-nominated work in that film, Macy's hangdog persona and his weathered innocence was tapped for character work in big budget Hollywood films like "Pleasantville" (1997) and "Seabiscuit" (2003). His later credentials also opened the door for Macy to write and star in a number of Emmy-nominated television films including "Door to Door" (TNT, 2002), as well as a tour-de-force performance as a no-good, but ultimately kindhearted alcoholic on the dramedy "Shameless" (Showtime, 2011- ), all of which solidified his reputation as a fountain of quality work and an impeccable performer and storyteller.