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Steve Buscemi  

Actor Known for His Roles in "Boardwalk Empire," "Fargo" and "Reservoir Dogs," and Host of AOL Web Series "Park Bench"

Steven Buscemi grew up in Brooklyn, where his family was his first audience. After graduating from Valley Stream High School in Long Island, Buscemi took a Civil Service exam and embarked on several years of odd jobs while waiting for his name to come up for a job with the FDNY. But in 1977 Buscemi summoned up the nerve to enroll in acting classes at the famed Lee Strasberg Institute in Manhattan.

He moved to Manhattan after a year of classes and found himself falling in step with the fertile East Village performing arts scene. He began performing stand-up comedy and making inroads with the downtown theater communities. In 1980, Buscemi's name rose to the top of the FDNY list, so he finally took a firefighting position with Engine No. 55 in SoHo. He tried to keep his artistic ambitions low-profile but eventually he began performing stand-up at parties for fellow firefighters. Over time, the self-deprecating comic wanted to focus more on acting and finally gained his first critical acclaim with "Steve & Mark," an avant garde comedy duo he formed with actor Mark Boone Jr. Over the next eight years, they performed together, they received notice from The New York Times and ramped up to producing an entirely new show of material every week.

Meanwhile, Buscemi landed his first small independent screen role in "The Way It Is" in 1986, and the following year, appeared in "Parting Glances." After seeing his work onscreen, had the confidence to pursue acting full-time. Work came steadily; first with a spate of TV guest spots on shows like "Miami Vice."

His reputation with the Downtown New York arts scene provided Buscemi with his early series of film roles, including an adaptation of Tama Janowitz' East Village drama "Slaves of New York" and Martin Scorsese's "Life Lessons" segment of "New York Stories." The same year, local filmmaker Jim Jarmusch cast him as a drunk and unlucky barber in "Mystery Train," which earned the actor a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the Independent Spirit Awards. In 1990, Buscemi began a long and successful working relationship with The Coen Brothers with a small role in "Miller's Crossing," and another the following year in "Barton Fink."

Buscemi's low profile blew up in 1992 when Quentin Tarantino cast him as Mr. Pink -- a would-be diamond thief who refuses to tip waitresses -- in the cult classic, "Reservoir Dogs," which won the actor an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male. He landed his first starring role as an aspiring downtown filmmaker in Alexandre Rockwell's "In the Soup." Over the next few years, Buscemi was an indie mainstay, with increasingly prominent roles in films like "Twenty Bucks," "Airheads" and Tarantino's classic, "Pulp Fiction." In 1995, he began getting offers to play mostly psychos and criminals in mainstream fare like "Billy Madison," "Con Air" and "Armageddon," which he heartily accepted to help finance his dedication to independent filmmaking. That dedication was never more obvious after he starred in Tom DiCillo's "Living in Oblivion" -- a brilliant comedy in which he starred as an independent film director.

In 1996, Buscemi's unique talent for portraying weasel-like, inept, but sympathetic criminals was perfectly showcased in "Fargo." No film had introduced him to more people than the Coen Brothers dark, uncomfortably funny, and bloody tale of a perfect crime gone awry, which surprised everyone involved when it became a mainstream hit, earning several Oscar nods. Buscemi's profile was further heightened that year with "Trees Lounge," his semi-autobiographical depiction of what his life would have been like had he not escaped Long Island. Buscemi received enthusiastic notices for his writing and directing debut, and was recognized with a tribute at that year's Sundance Film Festival. He re-teamed with old pal DiCillo in 1997's "The Real Blonde" and Rockwell in 1998's "Louis and Frank," before joining forces again with the Coen Brothers in 1998; this time to play the perpetually berated bowler who ends up in a coffee can in "The Big Lebowski."

Based on the success of his directorial debut, Buscemi was offered opportunities to direct; first, a series of Nike commercials, and then episodes of the HBO prison drama "Oz" and "Homicide: Life on the Street," for which he earned a DGA nomination. He directed his second feature, "Animal Factory," based on the novel By Edward Bunker and went on to direct a total of four episodes of "The Sopranos" in 2001. That same year, Buscemi voiced Randall Boggs in the winning "Monsters Inc." and was heartbreaking in "Ghost World," playing a record-collecting loner who finds a kindred spirit in a cynical teen. The film was a critic's pick -- winning Buscemi New York Film Critics Circle and National Society of Film Critics Awards, as well as Golden Globe and AFI nominations -- that beautifully packaged his mastery of awkward realism, emotional vulnerability, and sheer likeability. Not long after the film was released in the summer of 2001, Buscemi volunteered his services in the wake of the destruction of the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, digging through rubble for missing fire crews in 12-hour shifts and refusing to be photographed or interviewed in the process.

Now juggling three different careers, Buscemi directed three more "Sopranos" episodes and the pilot for "Baseball Wives" as well as appeared in independent films including "Love in the Time of Money" and "Who's the Top" -- not to mention "Spy Kids 2: The Island Of Lost Dreams" and the Adam Sandler comedy, "Mr. Deeds." For the 2004 season of "The Sopranos," Buscemi came out from behind the camera and joined the cast as Tony Soprano's cousin and childhood best friend, Tony Blundetto. On the big screen, he had a scene-stealing role in Michael Bay's sci-fi thriller "The Island" and also directed Liv Tyler and Casey Affleck in the charming "Lonesome Jim," which was nominated for a Grand Jury prize at Sundance. After a starring role as a paparazzi in DiCillo's Sundance hit "Delirious," Buscemi appeared in "Interview," the story of one night in the life of a fading journalist, which Buscemi directed and starred in opposite Sienna Miller.

Buscemi continued to work steadily, popping up in the Adam Sandler/Kevin James gay marriage comedy "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" as well as notching guest spots on "The Simpsons," "ER" and "30 Rock," for which he was nominated for an Outstanding Guest Actor Emmy for his role as a bizarre detective. Buscemi also voiced characters in "Igor" and "G-Force."

Buscemi appeared in the Oscar-nominated "The Messenger" with Woody Harrelson, the indie "Saint John of Las Vegas" and "Youth in Revolt." He then appeared in the Adam Sandler blockbuster comedy "Grown Ups." The year 2010 culminated when Buscemi landed a starring role on the much anticipated new HBO series co-created by Martin Scorsese, "Boardwalk Empire," playing Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, a powerful and corrupt political leader in Prohibition-era Atlantic City. While the show received overwhelming praise, Buscemi earned his due by winning both Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards for Best Actor in a Drama Series, as well as nabbing Emmy nominations for the same category in 2011 and 2012.

Buscemi reprised his roles in "Monsters University" and "Grown Ups 2"and also hosts and produces his own web series talk show, Park Bench, which debuted in May 2014.

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Steve Buscemi 'Park Bench' on AOL Second Season | Variety

AOL is bringing back "Park Bench," featuring thesp Steve Buscemi kibitzing with celebs and regular New Yorkers, for a second season. In the 12-episodeĀ ...

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