Officer Olson: Uh-huh. In what way?
Townsperson: Oh, just in a general kinda way.
In a career spanning over thirty 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, OZ, Nurse Jackie and The Sopranos, notably the celebrated "Pine Barrens" episode.
Buscemi later stepped out of his "creepy weirdo" oeuvre to play the lead character Enoch "Nucky" Thompson in HBO's Prohibition Era drama Boardwalk Empire, and in The Death of Stalin, he played the closest thing the movie had to a hero, Nikita Khrushchev.
Prior to his acting career, Buscemi was a volunteer firefighter with the FDNY. On 9/11, he dropped everything he was doing and went to help out his old firehouse once news of the attack broke.
- Parting Glances (1986) Nick
- Mystery Train (1989) Charlie the Barber
- King of New York (1990) Test Tube
- Miller's Crossing (1990) Mink
- Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990) Bellingham
- Barton Fink (1991) Chet
- Billy Bathgate (1991) Irving
- Reservoir Dogs (1992) Mr. Pink
- The Adventures of Pete & Pete (1993) Phil Hickle
- Rising Sun (1993) The Weasel
- Airheads (1994) Rex
- Living in Oblivion (1995) Nick Reve
- Desperado (1995) Buscemi
- Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead (1995) Mr. Shhh
- Fargo (1996) Carl Showalter
- Escape from L.A. (1996) Map to the Stars Eddie
- Trees Lounge (1996) Tommy Basilio (also writer/director)
- Con Air (1997) Garland "The Marietta Mangler" Greene
- Armageddon (1998) Rockhound
- The Big Lebowski (1998) Theodore Donald "Donny" Kerabatsos
- The Impostors (1998) Happy Franks
- 28 Days (2000) Cornell Shaw
- Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) Neil Fleming
- Ghost World (2001) Seymour
- The Grey Zone (2001) "Hesch" Abramowics
- Monsters, Inc. (2001) Randall Boggs (voice)
- Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams (2002) Romero
- Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003) Romero
- Big Fish (2003) Norther Winslow
- The Sopranos (2004-2006) Tony "Tony B" Blundetto/ Man
- The Island (2005) James McCord
- Charlotte's Web (2006) Templeton (voice)
- Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014) Enoch "Nucky" Thompson
- Hotel Transylvania (2012) Wayne (voice)
- Monsters University (2013) Randall Boggs (voice)
- The Boss Baby (2017) Francis E. Francis
- Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) Daytrader (voice)
- The Death of Stalin (2017) Nikita Khrushchev
- Lean on Pete (2017) Del Montgomery
- Elena of Avalor (2018) Saloso
- Miracle Workers (2019) God
- The Dead Don't Die (2019) - Farmer Miller
- Hubie Halloween (2020) - Walter Lambert
- Ax-Crazy: Comes with playing criminals with hair-trigger tempers.
- Butt-Monkey: Particularly in his early career, Buscemi's characters were rarely taken seriously by others, usually being the objects of abuse. This usually went against their desire for respect, often culminating in them getting way in over their heads and then killed. Later, this would often be subverted wherein his characters would turn out to be genuinely dangerous or even successful, particularly in Fargo and The Death of Stalin.
- Chronically Killed Actor: He's well aware of it, too. Especially in The Coen Brothers movies, and the brothers note that his remains get smaller and smaller through each film.
- Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: The comic book The Ultimates redesigned Bruce Banner after Buscemi's likeness.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: In addition to dying a lot, most of his deaths are gratuitously graphic and violent, most notably being fed through a wood-chipper in Fargo.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Particularly in his more comedic roles, like Spy Kids.
- Deadpan Snarker: His dialogue in most of his roles is drenched with sarcasm.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Buscemi is very good at portraying the pent-up agitation of characters like Mr. Pink and Carl Showalter.
- Hidden Depths: He served as a volunteer firefighter before becoming an actor, and famously aided in relief efforts following the 9/11 attacks. Even that tidbit wasn't made public until years after the fact because he didn't want to make a spectacle of it.
- It's Pronounced "Tro-PAY": He pronounces his last name as "boo-se-mee" and there's a lot of fans who say "boo-sheh-mee". His ancestral town of Sicily says "boo-shay-mee", which is closer to the latter's pronunciation.
- Jerkass Woobie: Invoked; many of his characters would be sympathetic if they weren't so unpleasant or ruthless.
- Lunatic Loophole: Armageddon, Con Air, Reservoir Dogs.
- Memetic Mutation:
- How do you do, fellow tropers?
- TIL Steve Buscemi served as a firefighter during 9/11.
- Do you think God stays in Heaven because he too lives in fear of what he's created?
- Played by Steve Buscemi.
- You are accused of treason and anti Soviet behavior. The court finds you guilty and sentences you to be shot.
- His appearance in Mr. Deeds, due to his character's Fish Eyes.
- Motor Mouth: A recurring trait of his in most roles. Lampshaded with Donny in The Big Lebowski, who is frequently told to "shut the fuck up" by Walter.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: In Barton Fink, Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead, and Con Air.
- Playing Against Type: As the adorably affable and harmless Donny in The Big Lebowski.
- Production Posse: With Quentin Tarantino, The Coen Brothers, Jim Jarmusch, and Adam Sandler.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Many of his characters, but Fargo's Carl Showalter stands out. Also 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 Greek manuscript which he cannot read but which Pembleton, who's been playing thick in accordance with Buscemi's racism, can. Averted in his later career: He gets to play characters in Armageddon, Spy Kids, Boardwalk Empire, and others who really are as smart as they think they are.
- Typecast: Usually as wise-asses, psychos, criminals, or some variation of "the creepy guy."