Steve Buscemi is an award-winning American actor who steals viewers’ hearts through his dead-on screen performances, such as his portrayal of a middle-aged vinyl record collector named Seymour in the comedy drama Ghost World (2001), in which he reaped numerous awards, including a National Society of Film Critics Award and an Independent Spirit Award. Previously, he was applauded after superbly playing the roles of Carl Showalter, a bumbling kidnapper, in the thriller Fargo (1996, took home a Sant Jordi Award and earned an MTV Movie nomination) and diamond thief Mr. Pink in the mob thriller Reservoir Dogs (1992, won an Independent Spirit Award).
Aside from his acting skill, Buscemi is also known as an apt director, who received rave reviews for his work in an episode of “Homicide: Life on the Street” (1998, received a Director’s Guild of America Award nomination) and the Pine Barrens’ episode of “The Sopranos” (2001, earned an Emmy nomination). Appreciation flows over his multifaceted talent, garnering him the 1998 Florida Film Festival’s Special Achievement Award, a Gotham award from the 2003 Independent Film Project and a Maverick award from the 2005 Woodstock Film Festival.
Off screen, the prolific actor once directed TV commercials for Nike in 1997 and became a model for H & M in 2000. The 52nd actor in a 1997 Empire (UK) magazine’s “The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time” list, in 1996, Buscemi was given a tribute at the Sundance Film Festival. As a former fireman, he worked as an anonymous volunteer in search for bodies of firefighters who died in the 9/11 tragedy. Two years later, he joined the demonstration protesting a cost-cutting proposal to close New York City’s 8 firehouses, and was arrested for it.
Buscemi, who has a noticeable scar on his cheek due to a barroom attack, is the husband of Jo Andres. He and Andres have a son named Lucian Buscemi.
Childhood and Family:
On December 13, 1957, in Brooklyn, New York, Steve Buscemi was born to Italian-American John Buscemi and an Irish-American mother. Steve, who is also called “Busc,” moved to Valley Stream, Long Island, when he was eight with his parents and three brothers, one of which is actor Michael Buscemi.
While attending Valley Stream Central High School, Steve discovered an interest in acting. He then took Liberal Arts at the Nassau Community College in Garden City, but dropped out the next semester. Moving to the Manhattan’s East Village, Steve was hired as a firefighter (1980-1984) amid his acting pursuit. In Manhattan, he also studied Drama at the Lee Strasberg Institute.
As for his private life, Steve is married to Jo Andres, a performance artist, choreographer and filmmaker. He and Jo have worked together in some projects, including his short film What Happened to Pete (1993), where Jo served as the editor. They have a son named Lucian Buscemi, who was born in 1991.
While working as a fireman, Steve Buscemi was introduced by his fellow worker to a theater group at Westbeth. After a while, he landed a big screen debut, alongside actor Vincent Gallo, in The Way It Is (1984), which then triggered a decision to leave the Fire Department. The debut was quickly followed up with leading roles in Tommy’s (1985, had the titular role) and in the independent film Parting Glances (1986, starred as musician Nick with AIDS). In 1986, he also appeared on the small screen by guest performing in the popular series “Miami Vice” as Rickles. Taking as many chances as possible, Buscemi was seen in films like the low budget drama No Picnic (1987, played Dead Pimp), the major psychic comedy Vibes (1988) and the hit CBS Western miniseries “Lonesome Dove” (1989, as Luke).
The new actor steadily stepped ahead and worked for the first time with the acclaimed director/writer Joel and Ethan Coen (the Coen brothers) in the thriller Miller’s Crossing (1990). Before long, he rejoined the Coen brothers, who cast him in the supporting part of Chet the bellhop, in the drama Barton Fink (1991).
Buscemi’s captivating performance was in the radar of Quentin Tarantino, which brought him the breakthrough role of Mr. Pink, a neurotic diamond thief who refuses to tip waitresses, in the mob thriller Reservoir Dogs (1992), where his impressive acting was handed an Independent Spirit for Best Supporting Actor. The same year, he also brought forth his skill in directing and screenwriting with the short comedy What Happened to Pete (1992, also played a stranger). The rising performer appeared in the titular turn of a mourning son in Ed and His Dead Mother (1993) before acting opposite Harvey Keitel and singing “Romeo’s Aria” for Alexandre Rockwell’s Somebody to Love (1994).
Following his starring role of indie filmmaker Nick Reve in Living in Oblivion (1995), Buscemi allied with the Coen brothers to carry out the part of Carl Showalter, a bumbling kidnapper, in the thriller Fargo (1996), alongside William H. Macy and Peter Stormare. For his smart portrayal, he was awarded a Sant Jordi for Best Foreign Actor, whereas his onscreen chemistry with Stormare received an MTV Movie nomination for Best On-Screen Duo. He also acted with his brother, wife and son in the short movie Black Kites (1996), as well as directed and wrote the comedy drama Trees Lounge (1996, also starred as Tommy Basilio), whose screenplay reading was staged in 1994.
Buscemi was also seen as prisoner Garland ‘The Marietta Mangler’ Greene in Con Air (1997) and reunited with the Coen brothers in the mob comedy The Big Lebowski (1998) before helming an episode of the TV series “Homicide: Life on the Street” titled Finnegan’s Wake (1998, received a Director’s Guild of America Award nomination). His appearance in Big Daddy (1999) led to more directorial work and a first production attempt in Animal Factory (2000, also turned up as A.R. Hosspack), the adaptation of Edward Bunker’s novel.
The recipient of the 1998 Florida Film Festival’s Special Achievement award, Buscemi reached the highest momentum with the supporting role of Seymour, a middle-aged vinyl record collector, in the comedy drama Ghost World (2001). The actor earned critical praise and was handed a New York Film Critics Circle, an Online Film Critics Society, a National Society of Film Critics, a Las Vegas Film Critics Society, a Kansas City Film Critics Circle, an Independent Spirit and a Chicago Film Critics Association for Best Supporting Actor. Additionally, he won a Vancouver Film Critics Circle for Best Actor and a San Diego Film Critics Society Special award for his body of work, as well as took home a Golden Globe nomination.
Meanwhile, as a talented director, Buscemi helmed two episodes of “Oz” (1999, 2001, TV) before accepting an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series, thanks to his work in the Pine Barrens episode of “The Sopranos” (2001). In the latter series, he also directed three more times (2002, 2004, and 2006) and played the recurring role of Tony Blundetto (2000-2006).
After directing the television film Baseball Wives (2002), Buscemi took a turn in Mr. Deeds (2002), portrayed Norther Winslow in Tim Burton’s Big Fish (2003), lent his voice for Wesley in the animated movie Home on the Range (2004) and accepted a supporting part in the Michael Bay-directed The Island (2005). Still in 2005, he returned to comedy drama by directing and producing Lonesome Jim. Working on a family movie, Buscemi recently starred as Nebbercracker in Gil Kenan’s Monster House (2006).
The actor, who received a Gotham award from the 2003 Independent Film Project and a Maverick award from the 2005 Woodstock Film Festival, is set to take part in such titles as Delirious (2006, starred as paparazzi Les Galantine), the star-studded family movie Charlotte’s Web (2006, with Dakota Fanning, Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey and John Cleese) and We’re the Millers (2006). He is also scheduled to do voiceover work in the animated comedy Igor (2007) and carry out the leading turn of washed-up political journalist Pierre Peters in the self-directed Interview (2007, also served as associate producer).
- Woodstock Film Festival: Maverick Award, 2005
- Independent Film Project: Gotham Award, 2003
- Chicago Film Critics Association: Best Supporting Actor, Ghost World, 2002
- Independent Spirit: Best Supporting Male, Ghost World, 2002
- Kansas City Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actor, Ghost World, 2002
- Las Vegas Film Critics Society: Best Supporting Actor, Ghost World, 2002
- National Society of Film Critics: Best Supporting Actor, Ghost World, 2002
- Online Film Critics Society: Best Supporting Actor, Ghost World, 2002
- Vancouver Film Critics Circle: Best Actor, Ghost World, 2002
- New York Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actor, Ghost World, 2001
- San Diego Film Critics Society: Special Award for Body of Work, 2001
- Florida Film Festival: Special Achievement Award, 1998
- Sant Jordi: Best Foreign Actor, Fargo, 1997
- Independent Spirit: Best Supporting Actor, Reservoir Dogs, 1992