The League star Steve Rannazzisi went on The Howard Stern Show on Tuesday (October 6) to delve into the lie that almost ruined his career.
For 14 years, it was believed that Rannazzisi had been working in one of the World Trade Center buildings in New York City on September 11 when the terrorist attacks occurred. Steve told the story of how he was able to make it out of the building before it collapsed, taking thousands of lives with it.
Just a few weeks ago, it was revealed by the New York Times that the story Rannazzisi told was actually a lie, and Steve was not in either of the twin towers when they were struck by the commercial airliners.
When the truth about Rannazzisi was uncovered, people were in shock and disbelief. The 9/11 attacks shook the entire country and the fact that a well-liked comedian would lie about a subject so sensitive made the matter even worse. Everyone, including the fans of Rannazzisi, were outraged at this deceit. Though Season 7 did continue to air the following weekend, Steve lost his endorsement with the restaurant franchise, Buffalo Wild Wings.
Amidst the shock and confusion that was created from the exposure of the lie, people wanted to know one thing: why would Steve lie about something like this?
Rannazzisi is finally answering that question. Steve went on The Howard Stern Show, with Stern who is known for his unabashed interview techniques, to unveil the reasoning behind his deception.
When Steve came on the show, he was visibly tense. Certainly, Rannazzisi was concerned with what Stern would say and where the conversation would lead them. The radio host jumped right into the good stuff when he told Steve that he was just looking to “understand this whole thing.” Like the rest of the world, Stern was bewildered at how and why Rannazzisi would lie about something so delicate to the country.
The radio DJ asked Rannazzisi about how he was outed and the actor replied that he had no idea how the truth had come to light. Steve said that it all started with an unexpected phone call one Monday. In the 14 years since he had told the lie, Steve said that it had faded to the background and wasn’t something he had been asked about a lot.
Then Stern asked the million-dollar question: did Rannazzisi have a reason for lying about being in the World Trade Center on that historic day? Steve answered the question with certainty and without hesitation. The actor said that he did in fact know the reason that he had lied. Stern suggested that it might be a psychologically rooted explanation for the lie and asked Rannazzisi if he had lied about any other aspects of his life. The League actor said that he hadn’t and he didn’t consider himself a liar.
Rannazisi told Stern that when he moved to Los Angeles shortly after the attacks on 9/11, he hadn’t moved there with the intention of lying or deceiving anyone. He was worried about making friends and wanting people to like him, just like everyone else who moves to a new city.
The lie originally started as a simple misunderstanding during conversation. Rannazzisi handled it like anyone else, the difference being that he soon after came into the public eye and wasn’t able to take it back as easy.
“It was as simple as sitting at the comedy store and everyone’s like, ‘Hey you’re from New York.’ ‘Yea.’ ‘Were you just there? At 9/11? You were around?’ ‘Yea, I was downtown.’ ‘You work there?’ ‘Yea.'”
The lie was a misinterpretation that could happen to anyone. As Steve explains it, when something like that is misconstrued, there’s only a short window of time a person has before it’s too late to take it back.
“You have like 15 seconds I think to kind of go, ‘Wait, hold on. Stop, I’m sorry. That’s not true.’ And if you pass that 15 seconds…now I have to be the guy who is very strange and weird and just said I lied about 9/11.”
Rannazzisi told Stern that back then, he didn’t have the confidence to go ahead and resolve the misunderstanding before it got out of hand. Steve said he wished that he had.
Steve told Howard that he was truly sorry for the lie that he had told and mostly regretted hurting those that were directly impacted by 9/11. Rannazzisi said that those were the people he wanted to say sorry to most of all.
“I know that I hurt a lot of people…people that lost people, people that helped people survive. And those are the people that I am truly sorry. I feel awful.”
Even though Steve was caught in a fib, he did his best to atone for it. Though Rannazzisi might not have had a choice as to whether or not he would face the backlash, at least he did it with composure. When Steve chose to talk to Howard Stern, who is not afraid to talk about touchy subjects, he showed the world that he was ready to confront the deception and reveal the entire truth.
Watch the whole interview with Rannazzisi below to hear his entire story.
You can watch Steve Rannazzisi on The League Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FXX.
[Photos Courtesy of Frederick M. Brown, & Jonathon Leibson/Getty Images]