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Love Letter To Steve Buscemi: King Of 90's Cinema

By Petr Knava | Miscellaneous | June 29, 2016 |

By Petr Knava | Miscellaneous | June 29, 2016 |

Dear Steve Buscemi,

How are you?

Ah, no, sorry, that’s a redundant question. We know that — coming off Louis CK’s ill-fated but critically lauded Horace and Pete and before that your tour-de-force performance in Boardwalk Empire — you’re doing great.


Sorry, again. We know that makes you uncomfortable, being showered with praise. But credit where credit is due.

It’s just that — well, we love you.

You make us feel all


Your life off-screen, too, seems to be just a shining example for the rest of us.You’re amazing. In an era of seemingly increasingly limited access for people of humble stock to the acting profession, your story — born to a restaurant hostess and a sanitation worker — is even more inspiring than ever. And, we know you hate this picture of you rejoining your old firehouse from your New York Fire Department days to work 12 hour shifts to help with post-9/11 efforts, but…


And, to top it all off, in an industry filled with fleeting dalliances and shallow photo-op relationships, you have been married to the same woman, Jo Andres, for three decades. Everything we hear about you just endears you to us more.

But these days there seems to be a shadow hanging over the world. Things feel wrong. Buscemi-less.


A glance at your IMDB page shows no shortage of roles. On closer inspection, however, the illness of the age becomes clear: outside of TV you haven’t been given a great role since, more or less, the 90’s. This makes absolutely zero sense, and we are dismayed by it.

Because, the 90’s? You ruled that shit.

Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Reservoir Dogs, Barton Fink, Airheads, King of New York, Miller’s Crossing, Trees Lounge… That decade, it belongs to you. As far as American cinema goes, I’m calling it now: Steve Buscemi, you are the 90’s.


You sit at the nexus of all that was great about that decade. Look at the people you worked with. Tarantino, Abel Ferrara, Robert Rodriguez; The Coen Brothers called upon your talents and ineffable presence multiple times. You slayed it in each and every role. Hell, you even starred in Con Air — one of the best of the roster of classic 90’s action trash cinema. You bring to these things a honed, keen sense of ensemble play. A mercurial energy. You enliven everything.

Or, at least, you used to.

Something happened around the turn of the millennium. As that first number on the calendar clicked over from 1 to 2, you gave us Ghost World, Coffee and Cigarettes, Big Fish, and… That’s pretty much it. Yeah, you did some voice acting, and starred in a whole bunch of other things but, let’s be honest here, those things were mostly beneath you (we’re not even gonna mention the multiple Adam Sandler movies you have been in since 2000. We know you’re probably good mates, but still, dude. Come on).


We don’t mean to bring things down or be disparaging in any way. We speak up because we love you and we miss you. There are so many great directors working today whose movies just cry out for you. I don’t even know what we wouldn’t do to see you in, say, a Jeff Nichols movie alongside Michael Shannon. Fuck, we’d sit through an Adam Sandler picture for that. Or get yourself into a Sofia Coppola or Nicole Holofcener movie. These kinds of writer-directors could build a whole narrative around you, or they could slot you into that perfect supporting role in which you’d absolutely shine. Either way it’d be dynamite.

At the risk of repeating ourselves, we miss you. Cinema needs you. Come back to us. Return to it.

But, you know, don’t feel the obligation to dive into the superhero movie thing like everyone else. They’re great, but…you know.



Petr Knava lives in London and plays music

Petr is a staff contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.