Buscemi in 2018
Steven Vincent Buscemi
December 13, 1957
New York City, U.S.
|Alma mater||Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute|
(m. 1987; died 2019)
Steven Vincent Buscemi (// boo-SEM-ee,[Note 1] Italian: [buʃˈʃɛːmi]; born December 13, 1957) is an American actor, director, writer, producer and former firefighter. He has starred in a number of successful movies, including Reservoir Dogs (1992), Desperado (1995), Con Air (1997), Armageddon (1998), The Grey Zone (2001), Ghost World (2001), Big Fish (2003), and The Death of Stalin (2017). Buscemi is also known for his supporting roles in the Coen brothers films Miller's Crossing (1990), Barton Fink (1991), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Fargo (1996), and The Big Lebowski (1998).
Buscemi has worked prominently in animation, including voice-work for Randall Boggs in the Monsters, Inc. film franchise (2001–2013), Wesley in Home on the Range (2004), Horace Nebbercracker in Monster House (2006), Templeton in Charlotte's Web (2006), Scamper in Igor (2008), Bucky in G-Force (2009), Wayne the Werewolf in the Hotel Transylvania film franchise (2012–present) and Francis E. Francis in The Boss Baby (2017). From 2010 to 2014, Buscemi portrayed Enoch "Nucky" Thompson in the critically acclaimed television series Boardwalk Empire, which earned him two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Golden Globe and two nominations for an Emmy Award. He made his directorial film debut with Trees Lounge (1996), in which he also starred. Other films he has directed include Animal Factory (2000), Lonesome Jim (2004), and Interview (2007). Buscemi played the role of Pete Wittel in the tragicomedy web series Horace and Pete (2016).
Buscemi was born in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, to John Buscemi, a sanitation worker and Korean War veteran, and Dorothy (née Wilson) Buscemi, a hostess at Howard Johnson's. Buscemi's father was of Italian descent; his ancestors were from the town of Menfi in Sicily. Buscemi's mother is of Irish, English, and Dutch ancestry. He has three brothers—Jon, Ken, and Michael. Michael is also an actor. Buscemi was raised Catholic.
The family moved to Valley Stream in Nassau County and Buscemi graduated in 1975 from Valley Stream Central High School along with classmate and future actress Patricia Charbonneau. In high school Buscemi wrestled for the varsity squad and participated in the drama troupe. (Buscemi's 1996 film Trees Lounge, in which he starred and served as screenwriter and director, is set in and was largely shot in his childhood village of Valley Stream.) Buscemi briefly attended Nassau Community College before moving to Manhattan to enroll in the Lee Strasberg Institute.
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Beginnings and rising popularity: 1985–1995
Buscemi made his acting debut in the 1985 film The Way It Is, directed by Eric Mitchell and produced by No Wave Cinema. His other early performances include the films Parting Glances (1986) and Slaves of New York (1988), as well as an appearance in an episode of the television series Miami Vice in 1986.. Buscemi received a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male due to his role in Mystery Train, released in 1989. In 1990, he played Mink in the Coen Brothers' Millers Crossing. Although he had to audition twice for this role, it marked the first of five of the Coen Brothers' films in which Buscemi performed. Also that year, he starred as Test Tube, a henchman of Laurence Fishburne's character Jimmy Jump in Abel Ferrara's crime film King of New York, as well as Edward in the anthology film Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, the protagonist of the "Lot 249" segment of the film.
In 1991, he played a bellboy, Chet, in the Coen Brothers film Barton Fink. His first lead role was as Adolpho Rollo in Alexandre Rockwell's In the Soup (1992). He gained wider attention for his supporting part as pseudonymous criminal Mr. Pink in Quentin Tarantino's film Reservoir Dogs (1992), a role that Tarantino originally wrote for himself, and one that earned Buscemi the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male in his second nomination. Also in 1992, he had a guest role as Phil Hickle, Ellen's father and older Pete's guidance counselor, in The Adventures of Pete and Pete. The following year, he starred as the eponymous character in the critically panned horror comedy film Ed and His Dead Mother. He also appeared in a cameo appearance in Tarantino's next film, Pulp Fiction, where he portrays a waiter dressed as Buddy Holly who serves Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega. In 1995, Buscemi guest-starred as suspected murderer Gordon Pratt in "End Game", an episode of the television series Homicide: Life on the Street. Buscemi was rumored to be considered for the role of The Scarecrow in Joel Schumacher's proposed fifth installment of the first Batman franchise, Batman Unchained, before Warner Bros. cancelled the project.
Supporting roles and television work: 1996–2009
The next year, Buscemi again collaborated with the Coen Brothers, starring as kidnapper Carl Showalter in Fargo. Subsequently, he gained a reputation as character actor, with supporting roles as Garland Greene in Con Air (1997), Rockhound in Armageddon (1998) and Donny in The Big Lebowski (1999). Going into the 2000s, Buscemi continued to co-star in supporting roles. He played Seymour in Ghost World (2001) and Romero in Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams (2002), as well as its successor Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003). He also extensively performed voice-over work for animated films, playing Randall Boggs in Monsters, Inc. (2001), — a role he later reprised in its prequel Monsters University (2013) — Mr. Wesley in Home on the Range (2004), Nebbercracker in Monster House (2006) and Templeton the Rat in Charlotte's Web.
In 2004, Buscemi joined the cast of the television series The Sopranos as Tony Soprano's cousin and childhood friend, Tony Blundetto, a role that earned him an Emmy Award nomination. Buscemi had previously contributed to the show as director of the third-season episode "Pine Barrens", which was one of the most critically acclaimed episodes of the series, and the fourth-season episode "Everybody Hurts". He appeared in episode three of season 6 as a doorman in the afterlife, which is portrayed as a country club in Tony Soprano's dream. He also directed the episodes "In Camelot", the seventh episode of season 5, and "Mr. & Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request...", the fifth episode of season 6. As well, he appeared in the music video for Joe Strummer's cover version of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song".
Current works: 2009–present
Buscemi starred in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire starting in 2010, as Enoch "Nucky" Thompson (based on Enoch L. Johnson), a corrupt Atlantic City politician who rules the town during the Prohibition era. He won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama for the role. In 2011 he hosted NBC's Saturday Night Live.
He hosts, directs, and produces his own web series talk show, Park Bench, which debuted in May 2014. In January 2016, Buscemi began co-starring alongside Louis C.K. in C.K.'s comedy-drama web series Horace and Pete.
Buscemi has also worked as a director, making his directing debut in the 1990s. His directorial credits include:
- What Happened to Pete (1992) (short film)
- Trees Lounge (1996)
- Animal Factory (2000)
- Lonesome Jim (2005)
- Interview (2007)
In addition to feature films, he directed the television show Love (Netflix Web Series) and episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street; four episodes of The Sopranos, including one of the most critically acclaimed episodes: "Pine Barrens"; as well as two episodes of HBO's prison-drama series Oz, entitled "U.S. Male" and "Cuts Like a Knife". He has also directed two episodes of 30 Rock ("Retreat to Move Forward" and "Leap Day"), and six episodes of Showtime's Nurse Jackie. In the latter, his brother Michael played the character God in several episodes. While scouting a location for a film, Buscemi visited the Philadelphia Eastern State Penitentiary and found the building so interesting that he later provided the majority of the narration for the audio tour there.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Buscemi was adamant about not altering his misaligned teeth, saying, "I've had dentists who have wanted to help me out, but I say, 'You know, I won't work again if you fix my teeth.'" Buscemi is noted for wrinkles around his eyes, giving them an aged appearance. "Buscemi eyes" describes the result when his eyes are photo-edited onto others' faces. He has stated that although he did not find this amusing, his wife Jo Andres did.
Buscemi guest-starred in season 6 episode 7 of 30 Rock as a private investigator. Playing against his image, during a flashback he appears to be disguised as a teenager as he says that he was "part of a special task force of very young-looking cops who infiltrated high schools". His character's disguise became an internet meme.
Buscemi grew up pronouncing his name as boo-SEM-ee, in an anglicized way. In Sicily, where his ancestors are from, it is pronounced as boo-SHEM-ee. He once remarked, "I had to go to Sicily to find out I pronounce my name wrong."
Buscemi was a New York City firefighter from 1980 to 1984, with Engine Company No. 55, in the Little Italy section of New York. The day after the 9/11 attacks in New York, he returned to his old firehouse to volunteer; he worked twelve-hour shifts for a week, and dug through rubble looking for missing firefighters. On May 25, 2003, Buscemi was arrested with nineteen other people while protesting the closing of a number of firehouses, including Engine 55.
In April 2001, Buscemi was in Wilmington, North Carolina, shooting the film Domestic Disturbance. He was stabbed multiple times after intervening in a bar fight between Vince Vaughn, Scott Rosenberg, and two local men, and was released from hospital after treatment.
A guest in episode 13 of the genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?, he was helped to trace his maternal ancestry to Julia Vanderhoof and Ralph B. Montgomery (1834–1878), individuals of Dutch and English descent. The program aired March 25, 2011.
In the middle of 2011, he joined rallies against the threat of the closing of eight Brooklyn firehouses during the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, saying "Closing [these firehouses] is no way to protect New York."
In 2014, Buscemi starred in and narrated the HBO documentary A Good Job: Stories of the FDNY, in which he revisited his work with fellow firefighters. He shares their stories, including those from September 11.
Buscemi has a body of work in both film and television dating back to the 1980s.
Awards and nominations
Primetime Emmy Awards
|2001||Directing for a Drama Series||The Sopranos||Nominated|
|2004||Supporting Actor in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|2008||Guest Actor in a Comedy Series||30 Rock||Nominated|
|2011||Lead Actor in a Drama Series||Boardwalk Empire||Nominated|
|2012||Lead Actor in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|2014||Short-Format Nonfiction Program||Park Bench with Steve Buscemi||Nominated|
|Guest Actor in a Comedy Series||Portlandia||Nominated|
|2016||Short Form Variety Series||Park Bench with Steve Buscemi||Won|
Golden Globe Awards
|2002||Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture||Ghost World||Nominated|
|2011||Best Actor in a Television Series – Drama||Boardwalk Empire||Won|
|2012||Best Actor in a Television Series – Drama||Nominated|
|2013||Best Actor in a Television Series – Drama||Nominated|
Screen Actors Guild Awards
|2005||Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series||The Sopranos||Nominated|
|2011||Outstanding Male Actor in a Drama Series||Boardwalk Empire||Won|
|Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series||Won|
|2012||Outstanding Male Actor in a Drama Series||Won|
|Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series||Won|
|2013||Outstanding Male Actor in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|2014||Outstanding Male Actor in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|2015||Outstanding Male Actor in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series||Nominated|
Independent Spirit Award
|1990||Best Supporting Male||Mystery Train||Nominated|
|1993||Best Supporting Male||Reservoir Dogs||Won|
|1997||Best First Feature||Trees Lounge||Nominated|
|Best First Screenplay||Nominated|
|2002||Best Supporting Male||Ghost World||Won|
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- on YouTube
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I say Bu-semmy. I don't mind Bu-shemmy, though. That's the correct Sicilian pronunciation, from the old country.
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