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Steven Vincent "Steve" Buscemi (pronounced /buːˈsɛmi/, boo-SEM-ee by the actor himself, but often /buːˈʃɛmi/, boo-SHEM-ee by others; born December 13, 1957) is an American actor, writer and film director. An associate member of the renowned experimental theater company The Wooster Group, Buscemi is best known to the general public for his appearances in movies like Reservoir Dogs, Fargo, Con Air, The Big Lebowski and Armageddon. Buscemi is also known for playing Tony Blundetto in the hit drama series The Sopranos and Nucky Thompson in the 2010 HBO drama series Boardwalk Empire.
Steve Buscemi was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Dorothy, who worked as a hostess at Howard Johnson's, and John Buscemi, a sanitation worker and Korean War veteran. Buscemi's father was Sicilian American and his mother was Irish American. He has three brothers: Jon, Ken, and Michael. Buscemi was raised Roman Catholic.
He graduated in 1975 from Valley Stream Central High School in Valley Stream, New York, a school which he attended with actress Patricia Charbonneau and writer Edward Renehan. In high school, Buscemi wrestled for the varsity squad and participated in the drama troupe, at that time directed by Mr. Lynne C. Lappin. Buscemi's 1996 film Trees Lounge, in which he not only starred but 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. In the early 1980s, Buscemi also served as a firefighter for four years on FDNY Engine 55.
His first role in a major motion picture was in the 1987 film Parting Glances, for which his performance in the role of Nick received praise. Other early films include Slaves of New York in 1988, and Tales from the Darkside, a 1990 film with three segments. Buscemi starred in the first segment, playing Bellingham, a college student who orders a mummy and unleashes it on fellow college students played by Christian Slater and Julianne Moore.
During 1990, Buscemi had a couple of additional crime roles. He played the henchman of Laurence Fishburne named Test Tube in Abel Ferrara’s King of New York, and played Mink in the Coen Brothers Millers Crossing. This marked the first of six of the Coen Brothers' films in which Buscemi appeared.
In 1991, he played the bellboy, Chet, in the Coen Brothers film, Barton Fink. His first lead role was in 1992, where he played Adolpho Rollo in Alexandre Rockwell's In the Soup. Then he finally came to public attention for playing Mr. Pink in Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 film, Reservoir Dogs.
Buscemi's most notable character roles include Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs, Garland Greene in Con Air, Rockhound in Armageddon, Donny in The Big Lebowski, and Carl Showalter in Fargo. Arguably his most critically successful performance was for his role as Seymour in Ghost World, for which he won several awards. Buscemi often plays characters that are neurotic and paranoid. He has appeared in a number of films by the Coen Brothers, in which he tends to die in a grisly, prolonged or unexpected manner. He frequently provides comic relief in Adam Sandler films such as Airheads, Billy Madison, The Wedding Singer, Big Daddy, Mr. Deeds, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, and Grown Ups. He also has worked with Tim Burton, Quentin Tarantino, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Jim Jarmusch, the Coen Brothers, Robert Rodriguez, and Michael Bay on various occasions.
In 2003, Buscemi made a brief celebrity guest appearance as himself on the long-running Fox animated television show The Simpsons in the episode "Brake My Wife, Please". Most recently, Buscemi provided the voice for Dwight, a bank robber whom Marge promises to visit in jail if he turns himself in to the authorities. This episode, entitled "I Don't Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings", originally aired on October 14, 2007.
In 2004, Buscemi joined the cast of The Sopranos as Tony Soprano's cousin and childhood friend, Tony Blundetto, a role for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award. 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. He appeared in the third episode of season 6, as a doorman in Heaven, which is portrayed as a country club, in Tony Soprano's dream. He returned to direct the episodes "In Camelot", the seventh episode of season five, and "Mr. & Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request...", the fifth episode of season 6.
In 1995, Buscemi played suspected cop-shooter Gordon Pratt in the episode "End Game" at the end of a three-episode arc of Homicide: Life on the Street. He also had a role as Phil Hickle, Ellen's father and older Pete's guidance counselor, in The Adventures of Pete and Pete, as well as guest-starring in Miami Vice in 1986. 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 Triumphant, before Warner Bros. cancelled the project.
In 2004, Buscemi appeared in the music video for Joe Strummer's cover of the Bob Marley track "Redemption Song". The video is shot after Strummer's death, and Buscemi appears alongside of a graffiti portrait of Strummer.
In 2002, Steve contributed to Lou Reed's concept album The Raven with the song "Broadway Song", and poems "Old Poe" and "The Cask".
Buscemi currently stars in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.
Buscemi has worked extensively as a writer and director since making his debut feature during the 1990s. His directional 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 episodes of the television shows Homicide: Life on the Street, four episodes of The Sopranos, as well as two episodes of HBO's prison-drama series Oz, entitled "U.S. Male" and "Cuts Like a Knife". He also directed an episode of 30 Rock, entitled "Retreat to Move Forward". He has also directed episodes four, five, seven and eight from season 1 of Showtime's Nurse Jackie. His brother Michael has also played the character God in several episodes.
Whilst scouting a location for a film, Buscemi visited the Philadelphia Eastern State Penitentiary. He found the building so interesting that he later provided the majority of the narration for the audio tour there.
Steve was a New York City fireman from 1980 to 1984, with Engine Company #55 in the Little Italy section of New York.
On March 4, 2005, Buscemi returned to his old high school where he was presented the Distinguished Alumni Award as part of the school's 75th anniversary celebration.
In April 2001, while shooting the film Domestic Disturbance in Wilmington, North Carolina, Buscemi was stabbed three times while intervening in a bar fight at the Firebelly Lounge between his friend Vince Vaughn, screenwriter Scott Rosenberg and a local man, who allegedly instigated the brawl.
- "Buscemi: Behind, in Front of Camera in 'Interview'". NPR.org. July 20, 2007. Retrieved February 20, 2010. Click the "Listen" link.
- "Film Society of Lincoln Center". Filmlinc.com. Retrieved November 20, 2009.
- "THE THIN MAN. | The New Yorker (November 2005)". Accessmylibrary.com. November 14, 2005. Retrieved November 20, 2009.
- "steve buscemi profile". John Lahr. September 11, 2001. Retrieved November 20, 2009.
- Lahr, John (November 14, 2005). "THE THIN MAN". The New Yorker. Retrieved December 10, 2007.
- "Edward J. Renehan Jr. – Home". Edrenehan.com. Retrieved November 20, 2009.
- Delatiner, Barbara. "Cinema Arts Film Festival Stresses the Independents", The New York Times, June 1, 1997. Retrieved November 1, 2007.
- [dead link]
- moviemansguide.com review of Batman Begins by Andy Hoglund
- thesmokinggun.com mugshots and description
- indieking.com has two news clippings on the incident.
- "Steve Buscemi Biography - Movies.com". movies.go.com. Retrieved January 27, 2008.[dead link]
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- Hear the song 'Steve Buscemi' by The Pale Corners on the Low Slung Podcast
- A Steve Buscemi Blog (Spanish)
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