Just as his credits run the gamut from the hippest of cult films to the big studio blockbusters, Madsen’s characters transcend beyond both ends of the spectrum. He is the ear-slicing Mr. Blonde in Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs,” dancing and humming to the tune “Stuck in the Middle with You;” the deviant killer in “The Getaway” with Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin; the psycho killer in John Dahl’s “Kill Me Again;” the Mafia family captain Sonny Black in “Donnie Brasco” with Al Pacino and Johnny Depp; the over-the-top cop in “Mulholland Falls;” and the hard-core government operative in “Species.” Yet, Madsen is also the lovable and caring father in “Free Willy;” Susan Sarandon’s supportive, understanding boyfriend in “Thelma and Louise;” the gentle Virgil Earp opposite Kevin Costner in “Wyatt Earp” and Halle Berry’s CIA boss in “Die Another Day.”
Madsen reunited with Quentin Tarantino for the blockbuster “Kill Bill, Volume 2.” He also appeared in “Sin City,” “Frankenstein” with producer Martin Scorsese, and “Red Light Runners” in which he stars and co-produces. Madsen starred in FX’s film “44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shootout” (which earned the highest ratings in the history of FX) with Mario Van Peebles and Ron Livingston. In addition, Madsen shot the epic European Western “Muraya” (AKA “Blueberry”) with Vincent Cassel and Juliette Lewis. Madsen starred in the series “Big Apple” and also starred as “Miller the Killer,” in the remake of the 1952 Gary Cooper/Grace Kelly Western “High Noon,” opposite Tom Skerritt, Reed Diamond, Maria Conchita Alonso and Susanna Thompson.
He is currently in production on “Afghan Knights,” directed by Allan Harmon.
His compilation of short stories and poems entitled Burning in Paradise further proves his capabilities as an artist, winning the Independent Book Publisher’s “Firecracker Poetry Book of the Year” Award. This was followed by Blessing of the Hounds, and his third book of prose entitled 46 Down.
Born in Chicago, Madsen and his two siblings, including actress Virginia Madsen, were reared in a close-knit family environment. He began his career on screen with guest-starring roles on “Miami Vice,” “Cagney and Lacey,” and “St. Elsewhere,” to name a few, only to make his film debut in the hit feature “War Games.” After roles in “Racing With the Moon,” “The Natural,” “Kill Me Again” and “War and Remembrance,” among others, Ridley Scott cast him in “Thelma and Louise” opposite Susan Sarandon, and Madsen became an “overnight success.”
With a long list of features in such films as “Money for Nothing,” “Man With a Gun,” “The Doors,” “Last Days of Frankie the Fly,” “The Florentine,” to name a few, in addition to television stints on “Inspectors 2,” “The Outsiders,” “Quantum Leap,” “Tour of Duty,” and “The Hitchhiker,” Michael also starred in his own series “Vengeance Unlimited,” a one-hour drama on ABC where he played Mr. Chapel, vigilante extraordinaire.