Wednesday, May 27, 2020

"Endearingly understated"

Steve Buscemi is the sort of actor whose mere presence makes any film worth watching, but he's not someone you often read about or hear from out of character - which is why I enjoyed his interview with GQ writer and New York neighbour Gabriella Paiella.

Here's her memorable description of her lunch date: "At 62, Buscemi has spent a lifetime playing lunatics and weirdos, outcasts and oddballs, his wiry frame a guitar string thrumming with rage or taut with the deep discomfort of simply existing in the world. The crown jewels of his visage are his heavy-lidded blue eyes, one of the most recognizable sets in the business, which can jut out maniacally or drown in subdued sorrow. When he pulls off his black baseball cap, I'm struck by how muted and relaxed his features are, as if they've all agreed to a nonaggression pact."

Buscemi might be a big-name movie star, but in person he's evidently anything but. His background as a firefighter has been well publicised (though not by him) - not least because, in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, he instantly put himself forwards to help out former colleagues and fellow New Yorkers. That he comes across as unassuming and unfailingly modest - or that it was he who was anxious about meeting Phoebe Waller-Bridge at an awards ceremony, rather than the other way around - is no surprise.

Strange to think that if he hadn't been hit by a bus as a child, we may never have seen him on our screens - it was the compensation that covered the cost of his acting classes and helped him to find his real calling.

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