Here's Some Really Interesting S**t You Didn't Know About Steve Buscemi
| Last updated
Birthday boy Steve Buscemi is undeniably one of the greatest character actors the world has ever had the pleasure of knowing. The Hollywood stalwart, once described with inexplicable accuracy by the Guardian as 'a strangely attractive shoelace', has forged a highly-successful career off the back of playing weirdos, oddballs, eccentrics and gangsters - meaning he's no stranger to the bizarre or the unexpected.
However, this connection spills over into his off-screen life, too, because as well as being one of the best actors of our time, Buscemi is a seriously interesting bloke, and there are a number of surprising tales about him that you may not have heard.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1957, Steve Buscemi began a career as a firefighter in the Big Apple at the age of 18 and served on FDNY's Engine Co. 55 in Manhattan's Little Italy for four years. His time with the fire service paved the way for one of our all-time favourite Buscemi stories, when he re-joined the force the for the week to help in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks.
The Hollywood favourite gave up his showbiz lifestyle for a week, working 12 hour shifts with other firefighters and digging through the rubble in search of survivors at Ground Zero. At the time, he said of his efforts during the rescue: "It was a privilege to be able to do it. It was great to connect with the firehouse I used to work with and with some of the guys I worked alongside. And it was enormously helpful for me because while I was working, I didn't really think about it as much, feel it as much."
In 2013, the Brotherhood of Fire Facebook page posted a heartfelt thank you to Buscemi, including a picture of him, along with a cation that read: "Do you recognise this man? Do you know his name? Lots of people know he's an actor, and that his name is Steve Buscemi. What very few people realise is that he was once one of New York's Bravest."
It added: "On September 12, 2001 and for several days following Brother Steve worked 12-hour shifts alongside other firefighters digging and sifting through the rubble from the World Trade Center looking for survivors.
"Very few photographs and no interviews exist because he declined them. He wasn't there for the publicity."
While he's starred in dozens of films and TV shows, he has another credit to his name: tour guide.
Ok, Steve isn't actually taking hordes of tourists around himself, but he did lend his voice for the narration of the audio tour at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.
Buscemi was looking at the prison for a potential movie in 2000, however the project fell through. But when authorities came to him to see if he'd be the voice guide to celebrate 10 years since the tours behind - the actor jumped at the opportunity.
But even though he's considered one of the best actors in the industry, even he doubted his talents when he went for the role which ended up winning him a Golden Globe and an Emmy. Buscemi auditioned for the part of Enoch 'Nucky' Thompson for Boardwalk Empire and knew he was up against some stiff competition.
He once told Collider: "When [creator Terence Winter] did call me and he said that he and Marty [Scorsese] wanted me to play this role, my response was, 'Terry, I know you're looking at other actors, and I just appreciate that my name is being thrown in,'" Buscemi recalled.
"He said, 'No, Steve, I just said we want you.' It still didn't sink in."
Eventually it did, and he went on to wow audiences with Nucky for five seasons.
However, that was far from the only time that a story about Hollywood's favourite weirdo defied expectation, although this next one isn't quite so wholesome.
Earlier in 2001, before Steve had dusted off his fireman's helmet, the Fargo actor was involved in a pretty serious bar brawl that almost killed him. What's even more bizarre is that fellow tinsel town big hitters Vince Vaughn and screenwriter Scott Rosenberg were there too.
Steve in 'Fargo'. Credit: PA
The talented trio had been filming for the aptly named Domestic Disturbance in North Carolina, when two local men picked a fight in a bar after the day's shoot was over. One of the blokes became angry when his girlfriend started chatting to Vaughn and a pretty nasty fight ensued.
Police eventually came to break up the beatings, but not before Buscemi had taken a knife to the head, jaw, throat and arm.
Luckily, the beloved actor made a relatively quick recovery and is still with us today to enjoy his 60th birthday. So, happy birthday, Steve Buscemi, one of the weirdest and most wonderful guys to grace the silver screen.
Oh, yeah, and you've been pronouncing his name wrong this whole time, too. It's 'boo-seh-mee', not 'buh-shem-ee'. You're welcome.