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Steve Buscemi
Steve Buscemi crop.jpg
Buscemi in 2018
Steven Vincent Buscemi

(1957-12-13) December 13, 1957 (age 63)
Alma materLee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute
  • Actor
  • director
  • writer
  • producer
  • firefighter (FDNY)
Years active1983–present
(m. 1987; died 2019)
Steve buscemi signature.png

Steven Vincent Buscemi (/bˈsɛmi/ boo-SEM-ee,[1][2][Note 1] Italian: [buʃˈʃɛːmi]; born December 13, 1957) is an American actor, director, producer, writer, and former firefighter.[3] He is known for acting in various supporting roles and as a leading man starring in a number of successful movies including Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992), Robert Rodriguez's Desperado (1995), Simon West's Con Air (1997) and Armageddon (1998), the black comedy Ghost World (2001), Tim Burton's drama Big Fish (2003), and Armando Iannucci's political satire 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).

From 2010 to 2014, Buscemi starred as Enoch "Nucky" Thompson in the critically acclaimed HBO television series Boardwalk Empire created by Martin Scorsese. His performance earned him two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Golden Globe and two nominations for an Emmy Award. Other television roles include The Sopranos (2004, 2006), 30 Rock (2007–2013), Portlandia (2014–2017) and Miracle Workers (2019–present). Buscemi starred in a leading role in Louis C.K.'s tragicomedy web series Horace and Pete (2016). He made his directorial film debut with Trees Lounge (1996), which he also wrote and starred in. Other films he has directed include Animal Factory (2000), Lonesome Jim (2004), and Interview (2007).

Buscemi has worked prominently in animation, including voice-work for Randall Boggs in the Monsters, Inc. film franchise (2001–2021), Wesley in Home on the Range (2004), Horace Nebbercracker in Monster House (2006), Templeton the Rat in Charlotte's Web (2006), Scamper in Igor (2008), Bucky the Hamster in G-Force (2009), Wayne the Werewolf in the Hotel Transylvania film franchise (2012–present) and Francis E. Francis in The Boss Baby (2017).

Early life

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 Sicilian descent; his ancestors were from the town of Menfi in Sicily. Buscemi's mother is of Irish, English, and Dutch ancestry.[4][5] He has three brothers: Jon, Ken, and Michael. Michael is also an actor. Buscemi was raised Catholic.[5]

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.[6]) Buscemi briefly attended Nassau Community College before moving to Manhattan to enroll in the Lee Strasberg Institute.


1980s: Early work

Buscemi in 1996
Buscemi in 1996

Buscemi made his acting debut in the 1985 film The Way It Is, directed by Eric Mitchell and produced by No Wave Cinema. Other early performances include 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.[7]

In 1989, he appeared in four films, including James Ivory's comedy Slaves of New York, Howard Brookner's ensemble period film Bloodhounds of Broadway and the New York Stories segment directed by Martin Scorsese entitled, "Life Lessons" starring alongside Nick Nolte and Rosanna Arquette. The film screened out of competition at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival to mixed reviews with the Scorsese segment being hailed as the standout by Roger Ebert.[8] Buscemi also appeared in Jim Jarmusch's independent film Mystery Train (1989) as Charlie the Barber, and was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male.[9]

1990s: Breakthrough

In 1990, he played Mink in the Coen Brothers' neo-noir gangster film Millers Crossing starring opposite Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, and John Turturro.[10] This was the first of five of the Coen Brothers' films in which Buscemi performed. Critic Roger Ebert described the film as one that "It is likely to be most appreciated by movie lovers who will enjoy its resonance with films of the past."[11]

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,[12] as well as Edward in the anthology film Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, the protagonist of the "Lot 249" segment of the film.[13]

In 1991, he played a bellboy, Chet, in the Coen Brothers film black comedy Barton Fink starring John Turturro and John Goodman.[14] His first lead role was as Adolpho Rollo in Alexandre Rockwell's In the Soup (1992).[15] He gained wider attention for his supporting part as pseudonymous criminal Mr. Pink in Quentin Tarantino's crime film Reservoir Dogs (1992),[16] a role that Tarantino originally wrote for himself,[10] and one that earned Buscemi the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male in his second nomination.[17] 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.[18] The following year, he starred as the eponymous character in the critically panned[19] 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.[20] 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.[21]

Throughout the late-1990s, Buscemi appeared in several films by the Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan)
Throughout the late-1990s, Buscemi appeared in several films by the Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan)

The next year, Buscemi again collaborated with the Coen Brothers, starring as kidnapper Carl Showalter in the black comedy crime film Fargo starring Frances McDormand and William H. Macy.[22] The film was a critical and commercial success debuting at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival where it competed for the Palme d'Or. Subsequently, he gained a reputation as character actor,[23] with supporting roles in the blockbuster action films as Garland Greene in Simon West's Con Air (1997) and Rockhound in Michael Bay's Armageddon (1998). Buscemi also appeared as Donny in the Coen's cult classic black comedy film The Big Lebowski (1998).[24]

2000s: Franchises

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 sequel 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.[25][26][27]

Buscemi at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival
Buscemi at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival

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.[28] 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".[29] 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".[30]

2010s: Boardwalk Empire

Buscemi starred in the HBO drama series Boardwalk Empire created by Martin Scorsese. The series started in 2010, where Buscemi assumed the role 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.[31][32]

He hosts, directs, and produces his own web series talk show, Park Bench with Steve Buscemi, which debuted in May 2014.[33] Buscemi won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Short Form Variety Series for the series in 2016. In January 2016, Buscemi began co-starring alongside Louis C.K. and Alan Alda in C.K.'s acclaimed comedy-drama web series Horace and Pete.[34] In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Buscmei was the first actor to sign onto the project, with Boardwalk Empire over he was available to star in the series. The two reportedly "met up in New York City where C.K. pitched the still evolving series idea to Buscemi. He signed on, on the spot, to play C.K.’s brother, Pete".[35]

In 2017 Buscemi starred in Armando Ianucci's dark comedy and satirical film The Death of Stalin. Buscemi portrayed Nikita Khrushchev. He received critical acclaim from critics with Manohla Dargis describing his performance as "superb".[36] The performance earned him a British Independent Film Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

2020s: Continued work

In February 2020, Buscemi was cast as Chebutykin in a New York Theatre Workshop revival of Anton Chekov's Three Sisters alongside Greta Gerwig, Oscar Isaac, and Chris Messina. The production was supposed to begin May 13th but was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic with no return date set.[37]


Buscemi has also worked as a director, making his directing debut in the 1990s. His directorial credits include:

In addition to feature films, he directed episodes of the television shows Love, Homicide: Life on the Street, The Sopranos, Oz, 30 Rock, Portlandia, and 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.[38][39]

Buscemi and Lou Reed at a screening of the film Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers, 2006
Buscemi and Lou Reed at a screening of the film Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers, 2006

Reception and image

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.'"[40][41] 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.[42]

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".[43][44] His character's disguise became an internet meme.[45]

Personal life

Buscemi grew up pronouncing his name as boo-SEM-ee, in an anglicised way. In Sicily, where his ancestors are from, it is pronounced as boo-SHEM-ee.[46] He once remarked, "I had to go to Sicily to find out I pronounce my name wrong."[1]

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.[47] On May 25, 2003, Buscemi was arrested with nineteen other people while protesting the closing of a number of firehouses, including Engine 55.[48]

Buscemi married Jo Andres in 1987; they were married until her death on 6 January 2019.[49] They had one son Lucian (born 1990).[50]

In April 2001 while in Wilmington, North Carolina, shooting the film Domestic Disturbance Buscemi was stabbed multiple times after intervening in a bar fight between Vince Vaughn, Scott Rosenberg, and two local men. He was released from hospital after treatment.[51]

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 on 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."[52]

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.[53]


Buscemi has a body of work in both film and television dating back to the 1980s.

Awards and honors

Buscemi has received numerous awards and nominations for his performances in film and television. This includes a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture nomination for his performance in Ghost World (2003). He also received five Independent Spirit Award nominations winning twice for Best Supporting Male for his roles in Reservoir Dogs (1992), and Ghost World (2003). For his role as Enoch 'Nucky' Thompson in the critically acclaimed HBO drama series created by Martin Scorsese, he received two Primetime Emmy Award nominations, three Golden Globe Award nominations, and ten Screen Actors Guild Award (SAG) nominations. He received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama in 2011, and four SAG awards, two consecutive Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series awards (2011, 2012), and two consecutive Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2011, 2012). Buscemi won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Short Form Variety Series for Park Bench with Steve Buscemi (2016).

In 2014, Buscemi was named Honorary Battalion Chief by the New York City Fire Department after his early career serving as a fireman, and for his return to the service during 9/11. He worked 12 hour shifts for several days alongside other firefighters, searching for survivors in the rubble from the World Trade Center.[54]


  1. ^ As stated in interviews by Buscemi himself, some may insist that his pronunciation of his own name is "wrong" because it does not match the original Italian pronunciation as well. It is not uncommon for people to pronounce his name /bˈʃmi/ boo-SHAY-mee instead.


  1. ^ a b "Regis kelly steve buscemi – Video Dailymotion". June 3, 2011. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  2. ^ "How to Pronounce 'Steve Buscemi' — Running Late with Scott Rogowsky". RunningLateShow. June 4, 2014. Retrieved May 2, 2017.
  3. ^ "Steve Buscemi – Former Firefighter". Archived from the original on April 9, 2008.
  4. ^ "Film Society of Lincoln Center". Archived from the original on October 11, 2008. Retrieved November 20, 2009.
  5. ^ a b "Steve Buscemi profile". John Lahr. September 11, 2001. Archived from the original on October 29, 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2009.
  6. ^ Delatiner, Barbara. "Cinema Arts Film Festival Stresses the Independents", The New York Times, June 1, 1997. Retrieved November 1, 2007.
  7. ^ Wood, Jenner M. (October 22, 2013). "27 Actors Who Got Their Starts on Miami Vice". Mental Floss. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  8. ^ "Reviews - New York Stories". Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  9. ^ "2011 Film Independent Spirit Awards" (PDF). Film Independent Spirit Awards. 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 22, 2012.
  10. ^ a b Tarantino, Quentin (1993). "Steve Buscemi by Quentin Tarantino". BOMB. 42 (Winter). Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  11. ^ "Miller's Crossing movie review". Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  12. ^ "King of New York (1990)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  13. ^ "Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1994)". British Film Institute. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  14. ^ "Barton Fink (1991)". Box Office Mojo. 1991. Retrieved December 10, 2008.
  15. ^ Maslin, Janet (October 3, 1992). "In the Soup (1992) From Art-Loving Gangster To a Menacing Hemophiliac". The New York Times. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  16. ^ "Reservoir Dogs (1992)". American Film Institute. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  17. ^ "'Homeboys', 'Idaho' Lead Spirit Nominees". Chicago Tribune. January 23, 1992. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  18. ^ Kurp, Joshua. "The Ten Most Memorable Guest Stars of The Adventures of Pete and Pete". Splitsider. Archived from the original on February 24, 2016. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  19. ^ Thomas, Kevin (November 17, 1993). "Script and Cast Can't Save 'Mother'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
  20. ^ "The Secrets of 'Pulp Fiction': 20 Things You Didn't Know About the Movie on Its 20th Anniversary" Archived March 15, 2017, at the Wayback Machine. The Daily Beast. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  21. ^ review of Batman Begins by Andy Hoglund
  22. ^ "Fargo (1995)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on July 14, 2012. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
  23. ^ Graham-Dixon, Charles (December 14, 2017). "Steve Buscemi: 10 essential films". British Film Institute. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
  24. ^ "Steve Buscemi Profile". AllMovie. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
  25. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Big Fish Movie Review & Film Summary (2003)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  26. ^ Eisenberg, Eric (August 20, 2011). "Monsters University Voice Cast And Plot Details Announced At D23". Cinema Blend. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  27. ^ "Ghost World". Cineplex Entertainment. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  28. ^ "Steve Buscemi". Television Academy.
  29. ^ Wolcott, James (September 30, 2010). "Barbarians at the Shore". Vanity Fair.
  30. ^ D'Angelo, Joe. "Joe Strummer Leaves Final Mark On New York With New Video". MTV. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  31. ^ Ocasio, Anthony. "012 Golden Globe Awards: Winners List". Screen Rant. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  32. ^ Staff, THR. "'Saturday Night Live' Hosted by Steve Buscemi: What the Critics Are Saying (Video)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  33. ^ Hurwitz, Daniel (May 15, 2014). "Web to Watch: Sit next to Steve Buscemi on 'Park Bench'". USAToday. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  34. ^ Kreps, Daniel (January 15, 2016). "Louis C.K. Surprise-Releases New Series 'Horace and Pete' With Steve Buscemi". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  35. ^ "Louis C.K. on Lorne Michaels' 'Horace and Pete' Advice, How the Show Almost Starred Jack Nicholson". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 16, 2021.
  36. ^ "Review: The Slapstick Horror of 'The Death of Stalin'". The New York Times. Retrieved May 16, 2021.
  37. ^ "Three Sisters". NYTW. Retrieved May 16, 2021.
  38. ^ "Steve Buscemi talks about Eastern State". Archived from the original on April 6, 2013.
  39. ^ "The Voices of Eastern State Audio Tour". Archived from the original on May 14, 2013.
  40. ^ Lindsay Powers, "Why Emmy Nominee Steve Buscemi Refuses to 'Fix' His Teeth", The Hollywood Reporter, August 14, 2011.
  41. ^ Arienne Thompson, "Buscemi Refuses to Have His Teeth Fixed", USA Today, August 16, 2011.
  42. ^ Samantha Grossman (June 10, 2014). "Steve Buscemi Addresses Internet Memes On Late Night With Seth Meyers".
  43. ^ Steve Buscemi – 30 Rock on YouTube
  44. ^ "30 Rock - Season 6, Episode 7: The Tuxedo Begins -". CBS Interactive.
  45. ^ "How Do You Do, Fellow Kids?". Know Your Meme. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
  46. ^ Cook, Kevin (August 10, 2011). "Playboy Interview: Steve Buscemi". Playboy: 41. Archived from the original on August 4, 2016. Retrieved August 10, 2011. I say Bu-semmy. I don't mind Bu-shemmy, though. That's the correct Sicilian pronunciation, from the old country.
  47. ^ "Ground Zero: Engine 10 and Ladder 10". Bushmaster Firearms International. Archived from the original on September 8, 2003. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
  48. ^ Bode, Nicole (May 26, 2003). "Closures Spur Fiery Protests 20 Arrested As Demonstrations Get Heated". New York Daily News. New York City: Tribune Publishing. Retrieved May 26, 2003.
  49. ^ MaslowW, Alexia; Fernandez, Nick (January 12, 2019). "Steve Buscemi's Wife of Over 30 Years, Jo Andres, Dies at 65". People. United States: Meredith Corporation. Retrieved January 12, 2019.
  50. ^ D'Zurilla, Christie (December 14, 2010). "Michael C. Hall divorce has him alone among fellow Golden Globe nominees". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
  51. ^ "Buscemi Stabbed, Vaughn Arrested in Bar Brawl". ABC News. New York City: ABC. Reuters. April 13, 2001. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  52. ^ O'Neill, Natalie and Briquelet, Kate, "Call Him 'Double-Duty' Buscemi", Courier Life, June 3–9, 2011, p.4.
  53. ^ "A Good Job: Stories of the FDNY". HBO. New York City: Home Box Office, Inc. (WarnerMedia). Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  54. ^ "On 9/11, people remember how actor Steve Buscemi helped search for survivors as a New York firefighter". Business Insider. Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  55. ^ "FDNY – Honorary Battalion Chief Steve Buscemi". FDNY -
  56. ^ "FDNY Honor Legion – Honorary Battalion Chief Steve Buscemi". FDNY Honor Legion.

External links

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