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Townsperson: Oh, he was a little guy... kinda funny lookin'.Townsperson: Oh, just in a general kinda way.
Cop: Uh-huh. In what way?
—Fargo describes every character Steve Buscemi has ever played.
In a career spanning over twenty years, Buscemi has carved himself a niche playing an assortment of freaks, losers, weirdos, creeps and psychos. It may be possible that his role in Fargo will have him forever pegged as that "kinda funny lookin'" guy.
In addition to his work as an actor, he has also directed a number of feature films and several episodes of Homicide: Life On the Street, Oz and The Sopranos, notably the celebrated "Pine Barrens" episode.
- The Big Lebowski - Theodore Donald "Donny" Kerabatsos
- Boardwalk Empire - Enoch "Nucky" Thompson
- Armageddon - Rockhound
- Con Air - Garland "The Marietta Mangler" Greene
- Fargo - Carl "The Guy Who Got Fed Into The Woodchipper" Showalter
- Ghost World - Seymour
- Monsters, Inc. - Randall Boggs (voice)
- Reservoir Dogs - Mr. Pink
- The Sopranos - Tony "Tony B" Blundetto/ Man
- Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead - Mr. Shhh
- Big Fish: Norther Winslow
Steve Buscemi displays examples of:
- Brooklyn Rage: Although no one ever finds it intimidating
- Chronically-Killed Actor: Especially in The Coen Brothers movies, and the brothers note that his remains get smaller and smaller through each film.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Firemen Are Hot: Subversion. For a guy who actually used to be a fireman he definitely tends to play a lot of "funny lookin'" loser/creep types.
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": His last name is pronounced "Boo-seh-mi," not "Boo-she-mi," as many people seem to think. He finds the mispronunciation annoying.
- Jerkass Woobie: Many of his characters would be sympathetic if they weren't so unpleasant or ruthless.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All
- Lean and Mean
- Loser Protagonist
- Lunatic Loophole : Armageddon, Con Air, Reservoir Dogs.
- Money, Dear Boy: If a job pays well enough, he'll generally do it.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Despite playing immoral/amoral weasels, he has been described as a consummate professional whom everyone likes.
- Older Than They Look: He's in his 50s now, but still looks like he's in his 40s. In Airheads, he was 36 when he played the 20-something metalhead Rex, and was more convincing than actual (then-)20-something costars Brendan Fraser and Adam Sandler.
- One-Scene Wonder: Usually any time he's in an Adam Sandler film.
- Only Sane Man
- Playing Against Type: Boardwalk Empire, as noted above.
- Donny in The Big Lebowski, a nice, upbeat, naive guy who's never allowed to speak for more than a second. The last part was done as a nod to the fact the his character in Fargo wouldn't shut up.
- An earlier example is In The Soup in which his character is a struggling but Sweet Film Director with an unrequited crush on Jennifer Beals' character
- Rule of Sean Connery: Stuff he's in is usually worth watching.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Many of his characters, but Fargo's Carl Showalter stands out.
- What Could Have Been: Buscemi was considered to be cast for the role of The Scarecrow in the cancelled Batman film, Batman Triumphant.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Despite being "kind of funny lookin'", his onscreen girlfriends have included Jennifer Beals, Kelly Macdonald and Paz De La Huerta among others.