William H. Macy has acted in plenty of ‘loser’ roles under his belt (i.e. ‘Fargo’, ‘Magnolia’). In the recent film, ‘The Cooler,’ Macy plays a character who takes losing to a whole new level. Directed by newcomer Wayne Kramer, Macy’s character in ‘The Cooler’ is a guy with such bad luck that a Las Vegas casino owner (played by Alec Baldwin) hires himto hang out in his casino in hopes of spreading his bad luck to those gambling in his casinos.its members in hopes of ‘cooling’ their luck. But Macy’s luck changes when he begins a surprising romance with a cocktail waitress, played by Maria Bello. Macy and Bello’s romance has some of the steamiest sex scenes on the big screen this year. As Macy jokes, it took almost 20 years for a director to finally ask him to take his pants off in front of the camera.
New University: How did you get involved with ‘The Cooler’?
Macy: Everything comes through my agent. Wayne Kramer sent the script, and I read it and I liked it. The only reason I had any doubts about doing it was that I had done so many little indie films and I was looking for higher pay. But everyone was just convinced I should play this role. It’s a great role for me, and a wonderful script.
New U: When you read the script, what caught your eye initially?
Macy: This movie says that love conquers all. I love that idea. If not true, I choose to live my life as if it were true. And this character is changed by the power of love. I think that’s a magnificent story idea.
New U: Any fears about shedding your clothes?
Macy: I had many. I don’t know why they waited until after I was 50 years old to ask me to take my pants off. I have been in good shape all my life, why did they wait this long? They should have come calling when I was 30. I thought that these love scenes were plot driven; I thought at the end of those love scenes the characters were different and that the plot had been put forward. When I read
the script, I thought, I would like to see their first interaction like that. That’s an important part of the movie. I talked to Maria Bello; we went to a restaurant a couple of weeks before we started
shooting. And I told her how scared I was and she told me how scared she was. And we reassured each other.
New U: What was it like filming in Reno?
Macy: It was surreal. We filmed in a casino that was being rebuilt. We rented out the whole thing. The production offices were in the casino. The cast lived upstairs and we shot on the second floor. Five or six days would go by and I wouldn’t see any light. It was a perfect environment. I lived on the elevator.
New U: Did you gamble at all while you were there?
Macy: I’m not a gambler, I don’t enjoy it.
New U: Did you do any sort of preparation for this role?
Macy: I’m not much of a preparer. Sometimes as an actor you learn some skills, but in terms of preparation for understanding the character, it’s all on the page. If it’s not on the page, you’re in trouble. If it isn’t on the page, the audience isn’t going to understand it.
New U: What are you headed towards next?
Macy: I’m going to do this thing called ‘Cellular,’ which is a potboiler about a couple of people getting killed. It’s all about law and order. It’s quite cool. And then I’m going to do a miniseries for CBS called ‘Reversible Errors.’
New U: Are there any directors you are dying to work with?
Macy: All the big guys. I introduced myself to Scorsese
and I said, ‘If you need someone to do craft services, I’m there.’ I’ve never done a Spielberg movie, and we went to the White House together for ‘Seabiscuit,’
and I said, ‘What do I have to do to get in one of your movies? I so want to be in one of
your movies.’ I don’t think he answered me.
New U: Are you going to let your young daughters see this movie now or ever?
Macy: Yeah. When I’m dead. The girls don’t watch TV, they’ve never seen anything. The rule is that when they know how to read, then they can start watching TV. They are 1 1/2 and 3. As soon as I had little girls I thought, ‘Am I embarrassed about anything I’ve done?’ There are a couple of projects out there that are regrettable but by and large, I haven’t done any of those heinous movies that are immoral. I’m so over that, it’s so juvenile.