Townsperson:Steven Vincent "Steve" Buscemi
Oh, he was a little guy... kinda funny lookin'. Marge:
Uh-huh. In what way? Townsperson:
Oh, just in a general kinda way.
describes every character Steve Buscemi has ever played.
(born December 13, 1957) is a cadaverous character actor beloved of The Coen Brothers
, Adam Sandler
, Quentin Tarantino
, Terry Zwigoff
and anyone and anything related to the world of Independent cinema.
In a career spanning over twenty years, Buscemi has carved himself a niche playing an assortment of freaks, losers, weirdos, creeps and psychos. It may be possible that his role as a man who gets fed through a woodchipper
will have him forever pegged as that "kinda funny lookin'" guy.
In addition to his work as an actor, he has also directed a number of feature films and several episodes of Homicide Life On The Street
and The Sopranos
, notably the celebrated "Pine Barrens" episode.
Buscemi has currently stepped out of his "creepy weirdo" oeuvre to play the lead character Enoch "Nucky" Thompson in HBO's Prohibition Era
drama Boardwalk Empire
- Chronically Killed Actor: Especially in The Coen Brothers movies, and the brothers note that his remains get smaller and smaller through each film.
- Zig-zagged in Reservoir Dogs, where his character (the wily Mr. Pink) is the only one to survive...only for him to jog straight into a police ambush and get arrested. With two or more dead cops it doesn't look too good for him.
- It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY: His last name is pronounced "Boo-seh-mi," not "Boo-she-mi," as many people seem to think. He finds the mispronunciation annoying. The latter pronunciation is nonetheless technically correct, as Buscemi has commented "I had to go to Sicily to find out I pronounce my name wrong".
- Jerkass: Most of the characters he plays.
- Jerkass Woobie: Invoked; many of his characters would be sympathetic if they weren't so unpleasant or ruthless.
- Lean and Mean: He's quite cadaverous.
- Lunatic Loophole : Armageddon, Con Air, Reservoir Dogs.
- Money, Dear Boy: If a job pays well enough, he'll generally do it.
- Mean Character Nice Actor: Despite playing immoral/amoral weasels, he has been described as a consummate professional whom everyone likes. A former fire-fighter, he immediately went to his old firehouse and helped look for survivors of the 9/11 attacks.
- Older Than They Look: He's in his 50s now, but still looks like he's in his 40s. In Airheads, he was 36 when he played the 20-something metalhead Rex, and was more convincing than actual (then-)20-something costars Brendan Fraser and Adam Sandler.
- Playing Against Type:
- Boardwalk Empire, as noted above. Enoch Thompson is a powerful, charming Don, leading a successful career as a charismatic politician and powerbroker, a commanding gangster, and all-around king of Atlantic City.
- Donny in The Big Lebowski, a nice, upbeat, naive guy who's never allowed to speak for more than a second. The last part was done as a nod to the fact the his character in Fargo wouldn't shut up.
- An earlier example is In The Soup in which his character is a struggling but Sweet Film Director with an unrequited crush on Jennifer Beals' character
- His character in the Tales from the Crypt episode "Forever Ambergris" is a nice (if naive) fellow. Among other things, he's, a gifted photographer who either doesn't notice how gifted he is or just doesn't let it go to his head.
- In the German biopic John Rabe, he plays a heroic American doctor.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Many of his characters, but Fargo's Carl Showalter stands out. Armageddon finally let him play a character who really was as smart as he thought he was. Best shown in an episode of Homicide Life On The Street where his character is a pretentious longshoreman with delusions of genius who talks down to the detectives whom he views as inferior. They bring in his copy of a Latin manuscript which he cannot read but which Pembleton can.
- What Could Have Been: