William H. Macy Says 'Hollywood Is Doing a Lot of Damage to the World with Our Portrayal of Violence'

The 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' actor said it's far more dramatic to kill off one person in a movie than 18

<p>Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic</p> William H. Macy


William H. Macy

William H. Macy is weighing in on his industry’s depiction of violence.

On a lively episode of Brett Goldstein’s Films To Be Buried With podcast posted Wednesday, May 29, the Shameless star, 74, said, “I think Hollywood is doing a lot of damage to the world with our portrayal of violence.”

What modern movies and TV series get wrong, according to Macy, is equating a high body count with high emotional stakes. “I swear to God, you kill one person, there's nothing more dramatic than that,” he said. “You kill 18 people, it's just porn. The only thing you can do to make that more dramatic is kill 18 more."

Related: William H. Macy Says He's 'Very Proud' of His Former Shameless Kids' Post-Show Success: I 'Miss Them' 

<p>Paul Archuleta/Getty </p> William H. Macy in 2023

Paul Archuleta/Getty

William H. Macy in 2023

By way of example, the Emmy-winner pitched to Goldstein, 43, an idea for a series. "You take three episodes to have you fall in love with one of the major characters and then shoot him,” he proposed. "But don't write him off the show. And every week, you can see what a bullet does to a human body. You can see how it wrecks his marriage… the deep, dark depressions.”

He added that his issues with truthfulness in Hollywood’s “portrayal of violence” has "cost me a lot of work.”

An Oscar nominee for 1996’s Fargo, Macy has written and directed movies as well as episodes of Shameless, on which he starred for its 11 seasons from 2011 to 2021. Among his next writing projects, he told Goldstein, is a Western he’s hoping to star in alongside his 23-year-old daughter Sophia, whom he shares with wife Felicity Huffman.

Related: William H. Macy Says It's 'Great' Wife Felicity Huffman Is Returning to Acting: 'I'm Really Glad She's Working'

<p>Moviestore/Shutterstock</p> William H. Macy in 1996's <em>Fargo</em>


William H. Macy in 1996's Fargo

"When I first started off, there were nine bodies on page four," he said of drafting the script. To make the story more historically realistic, he said, "I lobbied for us to go back to the real West and not to Westerns. Don't imitate films."

Macy continued: “At the end of the day, one thing any story has to be is true. It's got to be true to the human experience. And I think the test is if you put it out there and a couple of million people see it, that most of them recognize the issue and it moves them."

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Related: How to Watch All of the Planet of the Apes Movies in Order

The conversation with Goldstein covered favorite and least favorite films and storytelling tropes. Macy also shared with the Ted Lasso Emmy-winner some of the more lighthearted flicks he watches with family: 1980's Airplane!, 1994's Dumb and Dumber and 2011's Horrible Bosses. "God, I love to laugh in movies,” he said. 

Macy stars in Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, in theaters now.

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