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William H. Macy details 'shameless' love for whiskey, escaping LA for a 'cowboy town'

"Fargo" star William H. Macy has been married to Colorado native Felicity Huffman since 1997. They share two daughters and call Woody Creek home.

When Mark Kleckner decided to introduce himself to his new neighbor, a Hollywood star, he had no idea it would lead to a 10-year friendship and an unlikely business partnership.

Kleckner, the co-founder of Woody Creek Distillers in Woody Creek, Colorado, was living next to William H. Macy.

The Oscar-nominated actor, who often spent time in his workshop in solitude, learned Kleckner and his pal Pat Scanlan, who also lived next door, had been making spirits. 

He was curious.


"My buddy Pat found out that this ranch [Macy] lived on was a massive potato-producing ranch back up until about the 1930s," Kleckner explained to FOX Business. "And this whole valley used to produce more potatoes than the entire state of Idaho. So, it was fortuitous that we liked potato vodka. And micro distilling was up and coming. We figured we would start a distillery and create the best potato vodka in the world.

"In the early days, we were looking for convenient farmland or places we could grow potatoes for our first harvest, our first batches in 2012 and 2013," Kleckner shared. "We approached Bill, and I had already known him as a neighbor. And he was willing to let us grow potatoes on his land. … We’ve been working together ever since."

Woody Creek Distillers was founded in 2012. After using Macy’s field to plant potatoes for their vodka, Kleckner would drop several bottles to his neighbor as a thank-you, Whiskey Advocate reported.

But the distillery still needed a name to help spread the word. And it didn’t take long for Macy to become their "spokesdude." He recently launched his expression with Woody Creek Distillers, the William H. Macy Reserve Straight Rye Whiskey, or the "Macy Reserve." 

It’s described as a 10-year limited-edition bottle-in-bond release featuring an 80% rye and 20% malted barley mash bill.

"Mark came up and gave me a bottle of vodka from that field," Macy explained to FOX Business. "All the potatoes from that particular bottle had come from my field. We talked about it, and it was a couple of months later that he said, ‘How would you like to join the company?’"

Macy admitted he hadn’t considered the possibility. Nearly every celebrity these days has a name attached to a booze of choice, he pointed out. But the 73-year-old said the opportunity was too good to pass up.


"Why did I jump at it? Because I tasted that vodka, and it’s that good," he said.

It’s no secret his beloved character Frank Gallagher of "Shameless," the craggy family patriarch, has a love for hooch. But few know that Macy started as a bartender before finding fame. And after 11 years of playing Gallagher on the hit Showtime series, he was ready for a change.

"All actors work as bartenders or waiters before they become actors," he chuckled. "The two are aligned. It’s a good schedule. I was leaving college, and I went to a local bar where we hung out. There was a wonderful bartender there, and I said, ‘I’ll work for nothing if you teach me how to make drinks.' So I worked there for three or four weeks. All my pals would come in. We’d drink the place dry."

"But this bartender, he was really old school," Macy recalled. "He would throw me out of the bar if I shook the shaker cup too low. When I got to Chicago, which is where I started my career, I printed up this bartending resume, which was a beautiful work of fiction, but I got the job and I loved it. 

"I also tended bar at Alice’s restaurant down in Santa Monica for a while. I liked mixing things – that was my favorite part. Talking to people was a bit of a chore for me. When … somebody starts talking, and they’re just stunningly boring, you can’t walk away. You’ve got to pretend."

Along the way, Macy discovered a new love – Colorado. Macy, who was born in Florida but grew up in Maryland and Georgia, learned of Woody Creek through actress Felicity Huffman.

It was love at first sight – both with her and the town.


"I met Felicity Huffman in the latter part of the last century," he explained. "We both started a theater company called the Atlantic Theater. … Felicity lived in, you guessed it, Woody Creek. And I think I had known her for about three minutes when I hoped that it would be my home someday."

Woody Creek is a 300-person town located a few miles north of Aspen, Whiskey Advocate reported. According to the outlet, Huffman’s neighbor was gonzo journalism founder Hunter S. Thompson. It became a refuge for Macy, who grew weary of LA’s constant grind.

"Woody Creek still has the feel of a cowboy town," the father of two shared. "It’s slow. Everybody gets outside every chance they get. … I have my killer wood shop. We ride horses. It’s a magnificent little town."

"I’ve tried to define it, but boy, when I fly back to LA, I can feel pressure the second [I land]," Macy continued. 

"I can’t identify it, but something is bothering me, worrying me, or frightening me. And when I come here, I feel all that pressure is relieved. … It’s not like I have to go running around Hollywood taking meetings, but there’s just pressure there. It’s just a one-industry town. You see all these billboards, and I think, ‘I didn’t even know that was happening!’"

Macy didn't hesitate to purchase Huffman’s childhood home for his love. It was on her family’s land where the couple said "I do" in 1997. Colorado is still a refuge for the couple.

In 2003, they starred in a Theatre Aspen production of "The Guys," the first project they did together since 2017’s "Krystal." According to The Hollywood Reporter, it was one of the first major roles for Huffman, 61, since her involvement in the college admissions scandal, also dubbed "Operation Varsity Blues."


Kleckner revealed that Macy is still very hands-on when it comes to his involvement with Woody Creek Distillers. When he’s not greeting curious fans at the distillery or playing the ukelele for them, he’s encouraging no-nonsense drinkers to try their latest batch at bars.

"He’s more than just a friend, he’s part of the family," said Kleckner. "We’re making spirits and whiskies that we want to drink ourselves, and Bill’s right in there with us. I joke around. I wish that the actors strike continued because he’s probably the best tour guide that we have down here. He knows every facet of the distillery, every piece of equipment, the processes."

"People get to meet Frank," Macy boasted. "We just pour our products in little shot glasses and say, ‘Give us the best you’ve got.’ People try it, and we don’t say a word. They’re sold. … And throughout my entire career, I’ve lived by the notion that the audience is smarter than me."

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