Steve Buscemi is known for many roles. He’s played gangsters, weirdos, low-lives, creeps, and that one guy who got stuffed into a woodchipper in Fargo. Honestly, if Steve Buscemi is in a movie, there’s a pretty high chance that his character is going to get killed off. Not very often does the stalwart actor get the chance to play a hero, except maybe in real life.
Surprisingly, the man once described by The Guardian as a “strangely attractive shoelace,” had a role to play in one of the darkest days in American history- September 11, 2001.
A little-known fact, but Buscemi was actually one of New York’s bravest.
At the age of 18, Buscemi had taken the FDNY civil service test and was stationed in downtown Manhattan for some time during the 1980s. He would later leave the service to pursue his career in acting but never forgot his firefighting roots. Buscemi would often speak at firefighter union rallies and has helped promote FDNY fundraisers.
But it was on that fateful day on September 11, 2001, that Buscemi answered the call one last time.
On the days following the attack on the World Trade Center, Buscemi worked 12-hour shifts for several days searching for survivors at ground zero.
But just as impressive as Buscemi’s dedication to service is his humbleness.
To this day, no interviews or even photographs of Buscemi’s exploits exist because he declined all of them. He clearly wasn’t there for the publicity.
It wasn’t until a post by the Brotherhood of Fire Facebook page in 2013, did people learn about the actor’s well-kept secret.
“Do you recognize this man? Do you know his name? Lots of people know he’s an actor, and that his name is Steve Buscemi. What very few people realize is that he was once one of New York’s Bravest.
In 1976 Steve Buscemi took the FDNY civil service test when he was just 18 years old. In 1980 Steve Buscemi became a New York City Firefighters. For four years, Buscemi served on one of FDNY’s busiest, Engine Co. 55 in Manhattan’s Little Italy. He later left the fire service to become a successful actor, writer, and director. After 9/11/2001… Brother Buscemi returned to FDNY Engine 55.
On September 12, 2001, and for several days following Brother Steve worked 12-hour shifts alongside other firefighters digging and sifting through the rubble from the World Trade Center looking for survivors.”
So the next time you see Steve Buscemi in an Adam Sandler movie working his usual silly shtick, remember that under the makeup and laughs, lies not only a great actor but also a truly selfless person.