Steve Buscemi is certainly one of a kind. Today is the celebrated actor’s birthday as he turns 56-years-old, but throughout his career there still remains a mysterious aura about Buscemi, which is pretty hard to keep up when nothing seems to be secretive on the internet. Many people are aware that Buscemi is known for his quirky character roles in films like Resevoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and The Big Lebowski. What many people don’t know is that the birthday boy actually started his career in a very different profession.
Starting his acting career in the mid 80s, and gaining traction in the 90s, Buscemi was a firefighter for four years with Engine Company No. 55 before he got his start as an actor. This was revealed during the 9/11 attacks when Buscemi showed up at his old firehouse in Little Italy of New York to volunteer. At the time, Buscemi worked twelve-hour shifts for the week as he looked for fallen firefighters.
His loyalty to his firehouse has remained until 2003, when he was arrested with 11 other firefighters as they protested the closing of the firehouse.
Before Buscemi took a stab at acting, he also tried his hand as a stand up comedian. Seeing as he’s still pretty successful at spitting out various one-liners, it seems like that was a good study that he utilized later on in his career as an actor. That said, Steve isn’t convinced that stand up was for him, having said: “I think all comics borrow from each other. Only a few have an original voice, and I wasn’t one of them. In the end, I couldn’t figure out who to steal from, so I stopped doing it.”
Another interesting fact about the actor is that, for years, he had been mispronouncing his last name. Buscemi, which is Italian in its origin, is pronounced Bu-shehmy, but most people pronounce Steve’s last name as Bu-semmy. During an interview with Playboy magazine, the actor explained that he only found out the correct way to pronounce his name when he went to Sicily. “I had to go to Sicily to find out I pronounce my name wrong.”
Defying the odds, Steve Buscemi wound up scoring a lead role on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire as Nucky in 2010. He has won two SAG awards, and a Golden Globe for his leading man role.