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Madsen Recalls Varied Career

25 Aug, 2008 By: Craig Modderno

Hell Ride

Anyone who watched Michael Madsen ear-slice a helpless victim as the song “Stuck in the Middle” played in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs instantly knew this was an actor demanding attention.

Lean, mean and sensitive when the role demanded, Madsen’s resume includes scene-stealing parts in such diverse pictures as Thelma & Louise, Species, Die Another Day, Wyatt Earp, Donnie Brasco and the remake of The Getaway.

He co-stars in the Tarantino-produced film Hell Ride, which is in theaters now. Madsen is likely to join the filmmaker, for whom he delivered the goods in the “Kill Bill” films, in Tarantino’s forthcoming remake of World War II actioner Inglorious Bastards. The original recently debuted on DVD.

HM: How would you describe your new movie Hell Ride?

Madsen: It’s an homage to (director) Sergio Leone on motorcycles. It’s a rebellion against all there is, whatever there is to rebel against. In one sense, I’m surprised Hollywood doesn’t do more Westerns since it’s truly a type of film, a genre if you will, along with the detective movie, which we do better than anyone else. When it comes to these two types of pictures, I think Hollywood has run out of material and actors who are capable of interpreting anything. Excuse me but the days of Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum, Lee Marvin and William Holden are long gone.There are few so-called stars today who you can see on top of a horse or using their head to solve a crime.

HM: How much input did Tarantino have in making Hell Ride?

Madsen: At first he just wanted to play the part of Comanche, then he decided he didn’t want to act in it at all, just produce the picture. Later he looked at all the footage (director) Larry Bishop had shot, watched the two cuts of the picture Larry made and then edited the version you see on the big screen.

HM: Will Tarantino’s long version combining both “Kill Bill” films surface on DVD?

Madsen: I sure hope so. I’d like it to, but I don’t know who can sit through all that in one sitting. (laughs) … I thought Uma Thurman gave a great performance and deserved more-serious attention than she got.

HM: Would “Kill Bill” have been different if Warren Beatty had played the lead as he was announced to do?

Madsen: Warren didn’t know martial arts and refused to learn them for the final scene. … Despite what you’ve read, Warren was fired because he didn’t understand what the movie was about.

HM: There’s an underrated movie you made titled Boarding Gate, an unpredictable mystery now on DVD. What do you remember about the film?

Madsen: The script, like Asia Argento’s character, had a unique way of seducing me. I had a Steve McQueen haircut, which I hopefully used not to telegraph any of the surprise in the story. When I first met Asia, she had on a bathrobe and had a can of beer with a napkin wrapped around it which she was sipping through a straw. I realized right away we were going to get along real well. She was a very strong creative partner on the screen, but to detail any more of our creative choices together would ruin the film for people who haven’t seen it, which I encourage them to do.

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