Top 5 Steve Buscemi roles
|LISTS - MOVIE LISTS|
Is he a creep, a geek, a good guy or a nerd? He's all these things and more...and severely under-rated to boot.
Hollywood, like most industries no matter how many partitions, has its very own super-geek. In this case he’s good – at everything. From iconic slaps of violence to prolonged comedic dialogue, Brooklyn-born Steve Buscemi is the manifestation of ‘cult’. It would be fair to say that in a list of Top 10 actors he wouldn’t feature in most polls, but, that is not to say he doesn’t deserve it. More to the point, he shouldn’t feature on them, because does he not appear outside the lines of most viewers’ movie attraction? He probably wouldn’t want to be.
More memorable are the characters he portrays. From his unforgiving eyes and mental persona to fast dialogue and uncompromising reasoning, if you think about it now, properly, the violence and/or humour of his characters renders him almost incomparable.
Talented as an actor, his exploits also stretch to director (most notably, four episodes of buloni-bashing mob brilliance The Sopranos) and cameo specialist.
5. Rockhound – Armageddon (1998)
In Michael Bay’s disaster epic, where an apocalyptic asteroid is headed for earth, Buscemi portrays a fairly easily describable character – a mildly psychotic genius. Rockhound, part of the drilling team charged with saving Earth, has two doctorates from MIT and a seemingly self-destructive attitude providing a mainly comic character. Despite this, however, you can see certain nuances of a possibly violent existence from his scenes with a smug loan shark and a jealous biker. Indeed, both scenes also show Buscemi as the verbal violator he is known for: [to the biker] “ here, buy yourself a neck.” However, the scene that encapsulates his utter madness involves riding a nuclear bomb, Slim Picken-style...as only a maniac would.
4. Randall Boggs - Monsters Inc (2002)
Buscemi as a purple salamander in a marvellous story of adversity and companionship...this pretty much takes the two staple ingredients of all his films and gilds them in glorious animation. As Randall Boggs, Buscemi is the enemy, the antagonist to Sully (John Goodman) and Mike’s (Billy Crystal) attempts to top the scarers’ leader board. In this manner, he elicits his evil wholly encapsulated by his ‘Scream Extractor’ machine, which is the undercover treachery common in many Buscemi roles. He is mean to his assistant and effectively tortures both him and Mike, “If I don’t see a door at my station in the next 5 minutes, I will personally put you through the shredder!” How apt that this theme returns at number #3. Contextual humour is present, too, manifested in the reactions of teeny-tot, Boo (Mary Gibbs), who frequently giggles excessively at Boggs’ appearance, behaviour and ultimate demise. Take Boggs out of this medium and he would be met by equally menacing characters and unprintable dialogue more common with his other, adult, roles. Still, it fits.
3. Carl Showalter – Fargo (1996)
Credit where it’s due, the Coen Brothers' kidnap caper is more notable for the performances of Frances McDormand and William H Macy. However, Buscemi still resonates his trademark mentalist approach better than ever as Carl Showalter. As the merciless but overtly sensible gun-for-hire, he is one half of the road-movie pairing complemented by the purely psychotic Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare). Throughout the film Showalter remains the organiser of Jerry Lundegaard’s (Macy) sick plot to kidnap his own wife in the hope of receiving a cut of the ransom paid by uber-rich father-in-law Wade Gustafson (Harve Presnell). As Showalter goes stir crazy surrounded by dullards, he shows the violence and comedy of Buscemi’s persona - exemplified by the shooting of Gustafson and burial of loot along a never-ending, repetitive, snow-covered fence.
2. Theodore Donald ‘Donny’ Kerabratsos – The Big Lebowski (1998)
The Coen brothers’ second entry provided Buscemi his only out-and-out comedy role in this chart. It is completely unlike the others. When Jeffrey ‘The Dude’ Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) is confused for another namesake his rug is famously soiled; so to set things right, he enlists the help of bowling buddies Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) – a scarred Vietnam vet – and Donny, their apparently unappreciated tag-along. Aside from the normal Coen brilliance (John Turturro is hilarious as a disgustingly sordid bowler named Jésus Quintana) Donny shows no sign of exuding violence towards others. Iinstead he is the victim of his compatriots and a band of camp nihilists (fronted by Peter Stormare). What is more, you feel sorry for him – I can’t remember that feeling in any of his other roles. His dialogue, too, is stunted and abashed through his ‘relationship’ with Walt: “Donny, you’re out of your element,” but yet he seems to care for his scrawny friend: “there’s nothing to be afraid of.” A whimsical and periodical character, Donny was the perfect foil to Buscemi’s usual persona. Mark it down, dude. Noteworthy also that the Coen Bros. decided it would be funny to gve Buscemi - such a motor-mouth in their earlier Miller's Crossing (1990) - a role in The Big Lebowski where he is hardly ever allowed to speak.
1. Mr. Pink – Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Quentin Tarantino’s crime caper still stands as one of the greats, and gave Buscemi his benchmark character. As the fast-talking Mr Pink, Buscemi typified his mantle as the witty, sharp and theorised speech-merchant he has become known fo: “I'm very sorry the government taxes their tips, that's f***** up. That ain't my fault. It would seem to me that waitresses are one of the many groups the government f**** in the *** on a regular basis.” When the proverbial hits the fan, Mr Pink is the suited perpetrator of reasoning, the first of the group to question why the police were there so quick and, more to the point, was it a set-up? This allows Buscemi to unleash both barrels of a layered character showing intelligence, logic, passion, selfishness, edge and violence. His interactions with Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) and Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) in the warehouse are tense and provide the medium of unravelling the situation as the viewer is doing. Another trait you would expect from a Buscemi character, especially through Tarantino’s eye, is violence. But, unlike other characters where violence is paramount (Mr. Blonde and the ear!), Mr Pink mostly portrays the suggestion of violence when provoked. As with other violent characters, there is no real signal of intent until the very last – just don’t ask him his name.
Overall, it is clear that Buscemi was a 90s workhorse, a popular facet for a worthy, adventurous director of the time to create a boisterous and frequently likeable character, despite their obvious wrongdoings. In future, look out for him in William H Macy’s Keep Coming Back due late spring 2010.
Steve Buscemi has some of the finest appearances of minimal screen time ever known. Now, it is debatable whether a couple of those could have made the main chart, however do they really hold any narrative control?
First up is a silent criminal – Garland Greene – in Simon West’s airborne adventure Con Air (1997). No violence, not much dialogue but what there is chills to the core. In a similar mould, two years prior, Buscemi played an almost silent assassin known as Mr. Ssshh in Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead. Again, he is intelligent, calm, almost sophisticated in his methodical killing spree. Mr. Ssshh narrowly missed out on a detailed exploration. A comedy turn now sees Buscemi as a wonky-eyed tramp in Mr Deeds (2002), called Crazy Eyes. Perhaps his two greatest cameos are 'Map to the Stars' Eddie in John Carpenter’s Escape From LA (1996), alongside the all-powerful pirate Kurt Russell, and as Buddy Holly who waited on in Pulp Fiction (1994) where he shows a snippet of possible violence even in a bowtie.
Also look out for:
Youth in Revolt
King of New York
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