The Italian Almanac

Steve Buscemi

Looking for Roots

Offbeat Hollywood actor Steve Buscemi is in Italy this week seeking his roots. Buscemi, who often plays gangsters and says he's tired of getting killed, will get a hero's welcome when he meets the mayor of the small Sicilian town of Menfi his grandfather emigrated from in the 1930s. Mayor Antonino Buscemi, who shares the actor's surname like many Menfi townfolk, said it would be "a great honour" to meet the man who has done Sicily proud in such cult hits as Reservoir Dogs, Fargo and the Big Lebowski.

Buscemi, who was born in Brooklyn in 1949, had a variety of jobs before breaking into Hollywood including a stint as a New York fireman - a job he still returns to when he's not in front of the cameras. After a run of feature films that established him as a wacky character actor, Buscemi broke into the cult Mafia TV series The Sopranos, and even directed a few episodes between 2001 and 2006. His budding directorial career ended when, inevitably, his character "got whacked".

Buscemi's frequent demises have made the Brooklyn native careful in picking roles. "When I get cast," he said recently "I always flip to the end of the script to see if my character gets beaten up or killed. "I really thought that after getting killed on The Sopranos I shouldn't accept scripts where I die. "I mean, there's nowhere to go after getting killed by Tony Soprano".

The actor, who is also of Irish-American descent, has brought his wife, daughter and parents over with him to get a feel of their heritage.