Weighing with an impressive 124 acting credits to his name, Steve Buscemi is in terms of just amount of films and TV shows he actually has been in, turning down an opportunity as a fire fighter, to rekindle his love for acting, set ablaze from the young age of 7, he should surely be recognized as a heavy weight of the show biz world, so why isn’t he?
Steve Buscemi was born in the winter of 1957, to a largely Sicilian family, in the centre of Brooklyn, New York. From an early age some could already see that he was destined for show business, as passion for entertaining people ran deep through his veins. At the early age of 7 he was often performing jokes, skits magic shows for the whole family to enjoy. So we know it’s something he always destined to do, and practised at from a young age.
But When I mention too you such films as; Reservoir Dogs, The big Lebowski and Fargo, three great films in their own right, but could their greatness be attributed to that common factor they all possess? And drum roll please, the answer is, they all feature Steve Buscemi- like you didn’t know that already. But if Steve adds the great factor to all three films, then why is it that if were to mention any of those three films to your average Joe on the street, first of all they probably won’t find the link between them, but if you where to then ask them, to name an outstanding component of each of the three, they probably would highlight the style of dialogue from Resiviour, the acting performance of Frances McDormand from Fargo and the Dude from Big Lebowski – too be fair I can’t blame them for that one, come on! It’s the Dude, he pretty bad ass. But is it actually a reflection on Steve’s acting skills that means that he is almost the forgotten man, the bride’s maid and never the bride, or does it run deeper than that?
Well to answer such a question, we need to tackle such an issue from a verity of different perspectives. First of all even before we put an argument forward as to why he should be given more credit, and thrust further into the lime light, we need to answer the most fundamental question first. Can he act? Yes, yes I know your screaming and pounding your computer screen, or IPad or IPhone or whatever crazy contraptions, you kids are using these days. But from your angry and frustrated reaction right now, we are both saying the same thing, which of course is a yes! It’s not just an opinion; I have the facts, and plenty of them. First of all let’s take the three films I stated above as a starting example. Like I said they are all great films, okay and before the anti-buscemi’s start to rant, I’m not going to say they are great based solely on Steve, which even if I did, would be clearly a lie, and naive, as one of the reason those films are great, is because they directed by great people, The Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino, which I believe are both phenomenal talents, who create unbelievably fresh, and griping movies such as A Serious Man and Pulp Fiction respectively, but I’m just saying that another component to the greatest of said film, is the inclusion of Steve Buscemi, who isn’t just a passive back ground actors, but h actually has a substantial role in all three films, even acting as a pivotal point of narrative progression. Let’s take his role in Fargo for instance – which I believe is still he’s best ever performance, which happens to coincide with the fact, that it’s the film that gave him the most screen time, I’m just saying. In the film Steve Buscemi plays the part of Carl showalter, paid to fake kidnap the wife of Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), and hold her for ransom, so Jerry can get his grubby hands, on her farther fortune, to cut a long story short as you would expect, when you hire moronic thugs, things don’t go quiet to plan and thus starts a series of murders. One of which is Steve Buscemi, should surely Oscar for purely have the greatest film death in cinema history, come on! Who doesn’t love the genius of a wood chipper death? But we will get onto the subject of awards later.
So what stands out from this film on the behalf of Buscemi is not just the awesome death- and I mean awesome! Is that he has quiet a big stake, playing your classic conflicted bad guy, as he protests the murder of the kidnapped wife, then after a depute he faces the chipper. And of course the guys wasn’t all good, he did have his share of blood on in his hands, but at the end of the day Steve made Carl a very likable person, the type of bad guy you just have to fall in love with, and that’s what Steve does best playing; weird lonely guys or weasel-like, almost incapable of doing anything right, as his just so inept and useless criminals, but don’t worry they have a heart of gold deep down, in the serial killer, psychotic bodies of theirs, type of roles- but sometime a little too well.
Let now move on to another segment of the article, awards. With Daniel– day Lewis, winning a historical 3rd best acting Oscar, leaving him widely regarded as the greatest actor of all time. Awards are a big indication of quality. With the Oscar being the most prestigious of them all, but with all most 30 years in the business, the big one has still eluded the grasp of Buscemi, even a nominations seems a little too much to ask for. I’m a firm believer that the Oscars are truly a bench mark of quality, and when an actor or film wins the coveted trophy, it’s because they do deserve it, because they where the best that years, okay well not every year, seeing as Brokeback mountain, lost to Crash for the 2005 best film – which is still probably one of the biggest snubs of the last decade. But don’t get me wrong, Crash is an amazing film, and deserves recognition, but not best picture, but that’s not because the Oscars are flawed, crash was at least top 3, which is what is undoutbley the same every year, all winner, be picture of actors might not be the very best, but are at least top 3, and for me that good enough, because the margins are truly very slim, and at the end of the day, it’s all subjective. But getting back to the point the fact Buscemi has never been nominated, is not a reflection on the Oscars or Buscemi, because he just isn’t in the same league as the likes of Daniel or Russell crow, but that’s not really such a bad thing, so what if he won’t be in the history books, or next year’s Oscar list, or the year after that or then have a New York deli, name a sandwich after him. All I’m saying is that the guy deserves credit, where credit is due. Especially from the film gods, maybe not in terms of winning gold, but maybe toss him a nomination here or there for old time sakes. While on the other hand, Steve is a lot more appreciated on the TV of things, appearing on such critically acclaimed shows as 30 Rock and The sopranos, featuring in 14 episodes and directing 4 episodes on the later. Whilst this time getting an node for an Emmy for best actor in the brilliant show Boardwalk Empire, where he plays Enoch “Nucky” Thompson who is a corrupt a political figure, in 1920’s Atlantic city – which is Buscemi most layered character, resulting in more public attention for him then any of his films. So with Emmy from TV and Golden globe nomination, it’s not to that bad, so why then is he still in the shadows, and right in the middle of peripheral vision of most of America?
So what are the cases against said recognition? Well for starts from what said before about Buscemi playing the bad guys with hearts and lonely weird guys, a little too well. People maybe say this is actually to his determent, which I would love to argue against, but it would be lying, because the guy does like to play the same type of guys, you look at Ghost world a film Buscemi stared in 2001, with Thora Birch, and some girl called Scarlett Johansson, who did absolutely nothing with her career after this film. Buscemi places a lonely guy looking for a woman he recently met to contact him, which is of course a trick played on him by the two female stars, allowing one of them to assume the identity of the women, and have a gate way into Seymour’s world, which is of course eccentric and weird, with character traits like this, you could then link him to his role as the timid Donny, who constantly told to “shut the f**k up, Donny”. So as you can see the similarities between the two characters are canny, you would have said they were brothers, or where alternate reality versions of each other. Another pair of twins can be seen in Con air and Fargo. In Con air (the greatest film ever made, but that a different article all together) Buscemi plays Garland Greene, the most feared and dangerous inmate(all 150 lbs of him) on a plane filled with guys made of breaks. But is notorious for being a 30 time killer – buts it okay who cares about all those families that have lost their sons and daughters, because the guys sings with a little girl, at one point who all thought he was going to rape and kill, but it’s okay because he doesn’t do that, so that conceals all his previous crimes, to the extent that he is allowed to escape at the end of the film – taking Americas name “land of the free” to a whole new levels, seems like serial killers are allowed to be free to. But that’s the character Buscemi plays, a bad guy with a glimmer of good, which coincidentally is also the character trait of his twin Carl, from Fargo.
Another aspect working to his detriment is his love of indie films, the guy can’t get enough of them, sure they have artistic merits, but sticking to your blockbusters never did someone like DiCaprio any bad, and Buscemi can do them. Look at Con Air for example; Buscemi more than holds his own, on a screen packed with legends! Such as; Malkovich, Cage and John Cusack, looking like a fish in water next such a stellar class, so we know he can do it. So despite Buscemi, having appeared in so many indie films, like his writing/directing exploits in works as “Trees Lounge”, he does balance it out with a healthy selection of mainstream films, like all his work with the Coen brothers and Taratino. So it’s obviously not his selection choices that are the issue. So what is?
Okay, okay we can’t hold off from talking about the elephant in the room, which might be the actual and definitive reason – and superficial reason why Buscemi is in the shadow of American cinema. When people asked what actor they find attractive, out of 100, or 1000 maybe even the whole of America, a good 99% – not including the blind. Will never have the Buscemi name, ever pop into mind, too be honest the guy is no Brad Pitt, or Tom Hardy or even that hairy chested man Simon Cowell, and you certainly never find him on the magazine of sexist man alive. As much as we would like to, think that we put talent in front of anything else, that sad fact is we don’t, instead of celebrating his tremendous talent, we would rather draw comparisons to Gollum from Lord of the Rings – which I find it hard to argue against.
But I feel the main reason he hasn’t hit the big times, goes a long way to do with his looks, and some would say that he loves his indie films a little too much, and that if were to leave the indies completely behind, and focus entirely on the big budgets blockbusters – which he did have success with, in such films as Con Air, he would have more success despite being hindered by the fact that he plays the same characters, time and time again, just look at Tom cruise, the guy plays himself in every film, but yet his Hollywood royalty. But ultimately the fact remains – love him or hate him, he’s a talented guy who deserve a little more respect and admirations, from the business he devoted his life too, turning away the life of a fire fighter to pursue. But its probably a little too late for things to change now, so instead let’s celebrate him, maybe not on a big scale, but more on a smaller and personal one, by continuing to love all his films. Buscemi we salute you.