Michael Madsen is an American actor, producer, director, writer, poet and photographer. His first major film role was in Thelma & Louise (1991), and he is best known for working with director Quentin Tarantino in the iconic role of Mr. Blonde in Reservoir Dogs (1992), as Budd in both segments of Kill Bill (2003 and 2004), and appearing in The Hateful Eight (2015) and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019). Known for playing "charming, careless, terrifying bastards", Madsen has also starred in many feature films and television series.
In Quentin Tarantino's directorial debut film Reservoir Dogs, Madsen played Mr. Blonde, a villainous mobster. He did not get the role of Mr. Pink (which went to Steve Buscemi), which he wanted because it had more scenes with Harvey Keitel. For Pulp Fiction, Madsen had to decline the role of Vincent Vega, which went to John Travolta, because he was filming Wyatt Earp. Madsen starred in Mike Newell's gangster film Donnie Brasco (1997). He once said of these films: "Some of them I'm only in for 10 minutes, but they bought my name, and they bought my face to put on the DVD box with a gun. What people don't always understand is that I established a certain lifestyle for my family back in the days of Species and Mulholland Falls and The Getaway. I wasn't about to move my six kids into a trailer park. So when people offered me work, it wasn't always the best, but I had to buy groceries and I had to put gas in the car."
In Kill Bill, Madsen played assassin Budd, the brother of Bill (David Carradine) The film was released in two parts, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. In 2004, Tarantino discussed an idea for the film to unite Madsen and Travolta, as The Vega Brothers. In 2007, Tarantino said the film (which he intended to call Double V Vega) was "kind of unlikely now", because of the age of the actors and the onscreen deaths of both characters.
Madsen appeared in Uwe Boll's Blood Rayne, a film he described as "an abomination... It's a horrifying and preposterous movie". He won Best Actor awards at the Boston Film Festival and New York International Independent Film and Video Festival for his performance in Strength and Honour. He played himself in the mockumentary Being Michael Madsen. Madsen co-starred in Coma, a Web series on Crackle.
Madsen played Jim Ricker, the old friend of Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), in the eighth season of 24. Madsen starred in the comedy film Let the Game Begin. On January 5, 2012, he entered the Celebrity Big Brother house, where he finished in 4th place in the final. In February 2014, he played Las Vegas casino mogul Ted Binion in Josh Evans' film Death in the Desert. The screenplay was written by John Steppling, based on the book Death in the Desert by crime writer Cathy Scott. In August 2014, he starred in the Kill Bill-themed music video for the song "Black Widow" by Iggy Azalea featuring Rita Ora.
Madsen starred in the ensemble western film The Hateful Eight (2015). He was among a number of people rumored to have leaked the film's script before it was released, causing Tarantino to almost not make the film and eventually rewrite it; it was later established that Madsen was not responsible for leaking the script. In 2016, he played a dramatized role of former Texas Ranger Phil Ryan in Real Detective on the Investigation Discovery network.
In 2019, The Dirty Kind was released, a crime-drama from writer/director Vilan Trub featuring Michael Madsen as Executive Producer. The movie is loosely inspired by Anthony Weiner.