As anyone who’s followed his career and his history of philanthropic work knows, Steve Buscemi is a stand-up guy. Yesterday, the star of Boardwalk Empire, Fargo, Reservoir Dogs, The Big Lebowski, Armageddon, and Ghost World hopped on Reddit, where he’s a bit of a novice (“I don’t feel very comfortable doing these things,” he admitted), to promote the Indiegogo campaign for a documentary he’s producing called Check It, about an LGBT gang in Washington, DC. Over the course of his Ask Me Anything, he talked about Lebowski, Ghost World, Tarantino, and his stint on The Sopranos, among other topics; here are some of the highlights.
1. Tarantino’s best quality is his enthusiasm: On Reservoir Dogs, “he was SO excited to be making a film. And… to be directing his first film. In rehearsals, the rehearsals were just as exciting as the filmmaking! He would set up – this whole improvisation of us robbing the jewelry store, so that we would improvise and act out what went wrong. He just had, you know, has a lot of joy in him! And it was – it made all of us also feel like we were working on our first film.”
2. Ghost World director Terry Zwigoff pays attention to everything: “The director would get obsessed with people in the background. Sometimes, after Thora and I would finish a scene, we would see Terry walk up to us, and we would think he was going to say something to us, but he would walk right by us and give very specific directions to the background actors, telling them ‘Okay, let’s do this again!’”
3. David Chase whacks characters like a gangster: Buscemi did one season as Tony Blundetto on The Sopranos, but thought he’d be around longer. “I signed up for two seasons, so I fully expected to come back for another season – and towards, you know, towards the end of that season, it was season five, I got a message on my phone from David Chase, and the joke on-set was ‘You never want to get a phone call from David Chase.’ And… so… I called him back, and he asked me if I wanted to have lunch the following day, I said sure, he picked a restaurant, and I got off the phone and thought Maybe this is a good thing, maybe there’s something else he has me in mind for, it doesn’t necessarily mean that my character was going to get wacked.‘
“So I met him for lunch, I was thinking about it, didn’t sleep much, and I got to the lunch and the first thing he said was: ‘I’m sorry. We’re going to have to kill you.’ Something like that. I don’t remember his exact words, but it was to the effect that there was just no way that my character could conceivably live doing what he did. And of course, I understood!”
4. His favorite movies aren’t surprising — except one: “Goodfellas is one that I always stop and watch. Just recently I was… watching TV with my brother, and we came across Casino, and we had to watch that. Pretty much… any Scorsese movie, haha, I think I would stop and watch! And then a movie that I’ve always loved but I hadn’t seen it in years because I’d watched it so many times that I didn’t know if I could watch it any more is It’s A Wonderful Life. Also… let me see… Fat City, with Jeff Bridges and Susan Tyrell… any John Cassavettes film…” Hang on, back up, who else suddenly got all juiced up by the idea of an It’s A Wonderful Life remake with Steve Buscemi?
5. The Big Lebowski was a slow starter, popularity-wise: “I’m so happy that that is a film that has gotten a lot of attention over the years. Because when it first came out, I think it was – not that it wasn’t received well, but I think that initially, people (or critics anyway) were mystified by it. This was coming after Fargo. That, you know, Fargo was their first film that really broke into the mainstream. Probably any other filmmakers would have followed that film with something as equally as commercial, and they decided to go with The Big Lebowski . And I think it took years for that film to develop a following. I think it took a good five years before people would stop me on the street, and talk to me about it. But then it was like – mostly college kids, who had seen it, at that time, you know, five times, or six times, and then the following time people would tell me that they’d seen it ten times, and it’s just grown over the years into Lebowski Fest. So it’s so satisfying to see a film like that get made to begin with, and then turn into a classic that people enjoy seeing over and over again.”
6. John “Jesus” Turturro is the better bowler: “You know, we used to go bowling together, and yeah, I’d say John. John was better. I think he’s just a better athlete in general.”
7. He hasn’t seen the Fargo TV series… yet: “But I hear wonderful things about it. I do hope to watch it… someday! Someday I hope to watch a lot of shows, haha, that I don’t seem to see.”
8. Superman over Batman: “I loved the Batman series as well. But Superman is definitely the one I remember first. There was NOTHING like the excitement of that show coming on TV, when I was a kid. And I did have a Superman outfit – a costume that I got for – I believe my 5th birthday. And on the cape, of the costume, it was printed – I forget how it was worded, let me see – it was something like ‘You cannot really fly while wearing this outfit.’
“But then it said ‘Only the REAL Superman can fly.’ I swear to you. That’s what it said. Only the REAL Superman can fly. I really did believe in Superman.”
9. He’s in for Con Air 2: “I’m kinda curious what happened to Garland Greene? I guess if he got on another plane, haha, that could be a Con Air 2. Sure! I had a lot of fun making that film. And I thought Jerry Bruckheimer and Simon West put together a really great cast, and it was fun to hang out in the desert with all of them. So yeah!”
10. He has some very sensible advice for young people: “Don’t take any advice from me.”