Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Top 5 Steve Buscemi Roles; Happy Birthday, Steve Buscemi you Ugly Bastard
Steve Buscemi has had an odd career (one that he spoofed in his SNL hosting duties last week) that has seen him go from dog featured comedic actor in small roles in your favorite quirky comedies and indie films to full on Cable star. From Trees Lounge to Ghost World to almost every Adam Sandler comedy ever, the one time fire fighter from Brooklyn has played quite a few characters in his day. Some of them creepy, some funny, all very, very ugly. But we're not here to talk about Steve's looks. In honor of Steve's birthday, let's take a look at Johnny Bagel's 5 favorite Buscemi roles. Despite the critical acclaim and overall awesomeness of Boardwalk Empire, Buscemi's Nucky Thompson really isn't all that great of a character so he didn't make the top 5.
5) Tony Blundetto in The Sopranos
Buscemi had already been with The Sopranos for some time in a writing and directing capacity when he made his first appearance in front of the camera as Tony's recently released from prison cousin, Tony (he was Tony "Uncle Al" while T.S. was Tony "Uncle Johnny"). If the sight of Gandolfini and Buscemi next to each other seemed strange at first (never mind that they were somehow related), his performance as Tony B. quickly put those thoughts to rest. Able to play an ex-con trying to go straight while still hanging out with Tony and the gang in the back of Satriale's, Buscemi played a believable knock around guy with his trademark quirkiness still intact. His quick descent from luckiest man in the world to lying on Uncle Pat's porch with half of his face shot off at the hand of his cousin was one of the stand out story arcs of The Soprano's 6 and a half seasons (as you can see above sans Van Morrison).
4) Donny in The Big Lebowski
The Big Lebowski is one of the best loved movies to involve bowling, nihilists played by Red Hot Chili Pepper's bassists and Steve Buscemi. Steve doesn't have too much to do in this one as the bowling loving, always out of the loop Donny, but his character does have the most memorable eulogy scene in film history (even if he doesn't appear in it).
3) Tommy in Trees Lounge
Buscemi's directorial debut features loads of familiar faces from the Sopranos and Goodfellas (the casting director would later work for Sopranos), yet despite the presence of the usual goombah actors (including a very good pre Artie Bucco John Ventimiglia), Trees Lounge is the lighter side of being a loser in Staten Island. This was the role Buscemi was born to play, an annoying, alcoholic loser who you actually end up rooting for. Although living above a bar doesn't seem all that bad.
2) Carl Showalter in Fargo
Buscemi might not be the DeNiro to the Cohen Brother's Scorsese (a couple different actors would probably fight over that title) but he was definitely a favorite of theirs during the 90s. While dweeby and awkward, Buscemi plays a dirtbag better than almost anyone this side of Mickey Rourke. And in the Cohen Bros's Oscar winning crime flick, he plays a particularly obnoxious dirtbag named Carl. Fargo's plot was the same as 98% of the other Cohen Bros. films; shlubby guy at the end of his rope comes up with a plan to make a quick buck (which usually involves a staged kidnapping) only for miscommunication and general incompetence to mess everything up. In this case, Buscemi steals the show as the loudmouth would-be kidnapper who eventually meets the wrong end of a wood chipper. "You should see the other guy" is a classic line when delivered by Buscemi after just being shot in the throat. This film also saw the screen debut of former Miami Heat Center Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
1)Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs
The film that probably introduced most people to Buscemi as something other than the guy who had one or two lines in a handful of films like King of New York or Martin Scorsese's portion of New York Stories or some other movies that didn't have New York in the title at all. Mr. Pink is Buscemi at his best. Playing a crook who doesn't know that his jewel thief partner is actually 5-0, Buscemi proves there's no honor amongst thieves. While the other guys are definitely bad asses and/or sick fucks, Mr. Pink acts as weaselish as he looks. Watching him in this now, you remember why Nucky Thompson is rather boring; Buscemi's at his best when he's a slippery, snake like small time crook not a stately, composed crime boss. The few scenes that Nucky loses it have been some of the more memorable moments of Boardwalk's first 2 seasons, but he's in his glory in Tarantino's debut. Why do they call him Mr. Pink? "Because you're a faggot, all right?!"
Psycho in Con Air, Creepy guy in Mr. Deeds and Nucky Thompson on Boardwalk Empire.
Happy Birthday, Steve!