Monday, July 2, 2018

William H. Macy

William H. Macy, Toronto, Sept. 14, 2006

WHENEVER I DESPAIR THAT I'M LIVING THROUGH THE WORST PERIOD FOR POPULAR CULTURE IN A CENTURY, I remember that at least there are actors like William H. Macy working. I noticed him in small parts and was grateful when he turned out to be as good as I suspected he could be when he played desperate, venal, gutless Jerry Lundegaard in Fargo. Since then he's joined a short list of actors who inevitably improve even the least promising film with just a cameo or a walk-on.

Macy has been associated with David Mamet since his days studying theatre at Goddard College in Vermont, and developed an acting technique called Practical Aesthetics with the playwright. My scant experience in college theatre only provides the smallest insight into this process-oriented scene technique, but as far as I can tell it breaks motivation down into four steps - the "Literal," the "Want," the "Essential Action" and the "As If." Perhaps one day it might be useful to look into it a bit more to help facilitate the little performances I always hope to elicit from my portrait subjects.

William H. Macy, Toronto, Sept. 14, 2006

Macy was the third person I had in front of my camera at the film festival promoting the film Bobby, after Joshua Jackson and Emilio Estevez. I initially panicked when I realized that there was no quick way to ask him to take off the glasses hanging around his neck - by the end of the festival, my already brief portrait sessions had become lightning quick. When I realized they weren't going away, I decided to look at them like a character note.

Despite the briefness of the shoot, it seems like I was able to motivate Macy to give a little performance for me, with an actual range of expression and action happening over the quick sequence of frames I shot in that dim room at the Intercontinental on Bloor. Since I'd photographed his wife, actress Felicity Huffman, almost precisely a year earlier at the festival, it seems I've ended up with portraits of a legendary acting couple, shot in circumstances that almost make them a matching pair.

William H. Macy, Toronto, Sept. 14, 2006

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