Steve Buscemi has created an unforgettable body of work over the course of a fascinating career. He has worked with some of the greatest filmmakers of our time, ranging from Quentin Tarantino to the Coen brothers. Emerging as one of the most beloved figures in Hollywood, Buscemi has continued to produce fascinating performances in recent years.
His work in the 2017 dark comedy – The Death of Stalin – proved that Buscemi is still at the top of his game. However, most film fans will always think of Buscemi’s earlier iconic roles when talking about his oeuvre – especially his performances in popular culture artefacts such as Reservoir Dogs and Fargo.
However, the early days of Buscemi’s career also contained some difficult experiences. While he did manage to collaborate with pioneers such as Martin Scorsese and Jim Jarmusch in those years, he also had to struggle on multiple occasions in order to establish himself as a top acting talent in a brutally competitive industry.
One breakthrough opportunity came to him during the ’80s when Buscemi got an audition for a part in a 1987 comedy by Barry Levinson called Tin Men. During an episode of the Talking Sopranos podcast, Buscemi revealed that his auditioning skills weren’t that polished which is why this turned out to be a complete disaster.
After showing up at the casting call, Buscemi delivered his own rendition of the character in front of Levinson and the casting director. However, the filmmaker wasn’t impressed at all and asked him to do it in a different way. Buscemi recalled: “[Levinson] went, ‘Oh yeah, that’s good. Now, try it like this.’ And he gave me a very specific direction.”
Despite the direction, Buscemi ended up performing the role in the same way again. “I read the scene again. And he looked at me and I looked at him. And I said, ‘I just did it the same way, right?’ He goes, ‘Yeah,'” Buscemi added. ‘I didn’t do anything! I just copied exactly the way I did it before. I knew right then: ‘OK, I didn’t get this part.'”
Over the years, Buscemi learned more about the specific skills required to nail auditions and he soon mastered the art which is how he got some of his most iconic roles. In fact, Buscemi’s part in Reservoir Dogs was actually supposed to be played by the director but the actor’s audition was so good that Tarantino changed his mind.