Who Is Steve Buscemi?
Steve Buscemi studied at the Lee Strasberg Institute and worked as an FDNY firefighter before his breakout film role in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. A popular character actor, Buscemi has worked with the Coen brothers, Robert Rodriguez, Jim Jarmusch and many others. Television audiences know him for his roles on the critically acclaimed shows The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire.
Early Life and Career
Steven Vincent Buscemi was born on December 13, 1957, in Brooklyn, New York. Buscemi began acting in the mid-1980s and has established himself as one of the leading character actors working today. Before his career took off, he worked as a firefighter at Engine Company 55 in New York's Little Italy neighborhood from 1980 to 1984.
Early Career and Breakthrough Role
His portrayal of the criminal Mr. Pink in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992) raised his profile in Hollywood considerably and soon after it seemed that Buscemi was everywhere. With his thin, reed-like frame, pale skin and slightly bulging eyes, he often played a sleazy or crazed character. Buscemi became a favorite choice for many directors. He worked with the Coen brothers the films Miller's Crossing (1990), Barton Fink (1991), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Fargo (1996) and The Big Lebowski (1998). And with Robert Rodriguez, Buscemi appeared in two of his Spy Kids movies.
It hasn't been all bad guy parts or completely off-the-wall characters for Buscemi. In 2001, he was the unlikely romantic lead in the dramatic comedy Ghost World, adapted from the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes. That same year, he appeared in The Grey Zone, as one of the Jewish prisoners who work in the gas chambers at the concentration camp Auschwitz during World War II. The film earned strong reviews for its bleak portrayal of what people would do in impossible situations.
Directorial Debut and 'Sopranos'
Buscemi has also worked behind the camera. In 1996, his first directorial effort, Trees Lounge, was released to positive reviews. He also wrote the screenplay for the film as well. Later he was asked to direct an episode of the award-winning drama The Sopranos (1999-07) by series creator David Chase. The result was the Emmy Award-nominated episode entitled "Pine Barrens" in the third season. This led to Buscemi directing a few more episodes of the show. He eventually joined the cast in the fifth season as Tony Blundetto, a cousin of Tony Soprano — played by James Gandolfini — the central figure in the show.
Besides directing The Sopranos, Buscemi has lent his voice to several children's films, including Monsters, Inc. (2001), Charlotte's Web (2006), G-Force (2009) and Monsters University (2013). He also began to star in a string of comedy films, including I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (2007), Grown Ups (2010), Hotel Transylvania (2012) and Grown Ups 2 (2013), all of which he co-starred alongside Adam Sandler.
After his stint on The Sopranos, Buscemi returned to television in a few varied roles. In 2007, he guest starred on The Simpsons (1989-) and he also made an appearance on ER (1994-09) the following year. Staying in line with his comedic roles, Buscemi also made appearances on Portlandia (2011-) and 30 Rock (2006-13). But his biggest role on television came after taking on the lead role in Boardwalk Empire (2010-) as Enoch "Nucky" Thompson. He was nominated for several Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Golden Globe Awards and a Primetime Emmy Award for his work on the series.
Wife and Son
Buscemi married artist Jo Andres in 1987, and the couple had a son, Lucian. Andres passed away in 2019.
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