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November 19, 2012 3PM EST

Q&A with Steve Buscemi

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  • Q

    Thank you Steve Buscemi for joining us today. How difficult was it to prepare for your role as Nucky compared to your other roles?

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    I wouldn't say it was difficult. I prepared for Nucky in the same way as I do for any role. Talk with the writer/director about who he is. Ask questions. Do some research on my own, in this case watching documentaries, reading books. Suggest ideas. Rehearse as much as is allowable. And learn my lines, learn my lines, learn my lines.

  • Q

    Steve, Nucky has had a real character arch moving into this season, how do you feel about the direction Nucky is taking?

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    I try not to have an opinion about where Nucky is headed, but it's been a very interesting journey to say the least. With all of the stress that's been added to Nucky's life since prohibition, the character feels much darker than Season One. But it's always fun to play Nucky, he is such a colorful and unpredictable character.

  • Q

    Who's smarter, Nucky or Arnold Rothstein? Please explain your reasoning.

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    Sometimes Nucky is smarter. Sometimes Arnold is smarter. They are both very intelligent and are able to think on their feet. They are also both able to look to the future. So, I'd say they are on equal footing brain wise and with street smarts..

  • Q

    How real or surreal does it feel to play a historical figure from 90-some years ago, who built & controlled an empire in the "roaring 20's"?

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    Nucky Thompson is loosely based on Nucky Johnson, the County Treasure of Atlantic City for a long stretch of time. I don't feel compelled to accurately portray the real person, but rather a corrupt political boss of that era. But it's as much the Nucky Thompson of Terry Winter's imagination, based on his considerable research of that time.

  • Q

    Steve, I love Boardwalk Empire! How much of yourself is there in Nucky's character if any?

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    Well, it's all me, since I'm all I've got, but I wouldn't say I'm anything like Nucky.

  • Q

    How did growing up in Long Island help to prepare you for the role of Nucky and dealing with NYC mobsters and other characters in around NY?

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    A
    Steve Buscemi says:

    There's a certain type of character that you can't help but come in contact with growing up and living in Brooklyn and Long Island. A certain mixture of moxie, heart, and a wise guy sense of humor. 

  • Q

    Would you see James Gandolfini playing a major character in season 4 of Boardwalk( similar to Tony Blundetto from season 5 of the Sopranos)?

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    The real Nucky Johnson was built more like Jimmy, so he really should be playing my part. I love working with Jimmy and it would be awesome if he were to join the cast in any capacity.

  • Q

    I've always been a huge fan of your sensible, down-to-earth characters. Has playing someone more brutal changed your daily outlook on life?

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    A
    Steve Buscemi says:

    I'm not sure why it would. I've always tried to have a healthy take on the characters I play, they are only characters I play.

  • Q

    Do you think that Nucky ever wants to get out of the "game"

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    Nucky had his chance to get out of the game and the end of season two. He chose to fight and settle the score, which I think cost him a great deal personally. But I think in his mind he had no choice. He would have been miserable letting it all go. There have been moments in Season 3 where Nucky wishes his life could be simpler. I doubt that's going happen any time soon..

  • Q

    I think that before Boardwalk Empire the last time I have seen a film where you played a criminal in a drama was Reservoir Dogs. Did someone approach you directly for the role or did you go to an audition? Whatever it was I'm glad you're back.

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    I didn't know I was gone. Terry Winter and Martin Scorsese offered me the role, but I would have gladly auditioned.

  • Q

    who is your favourite gangster of all time?

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    I don't have a real life favorite gangster. On film - James Cagney.

  • Q

    What is Bobby Cannavale (Gyp Rossetti) like off screen?

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    I've known Bobby for a few years now and always wanted to work with him. He's got a great sense of humor and is of course the nicest guy. Amazing actor.

  • Q

    Where did you learn how to juggle that well?

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    I sort of remember my Uncle Anthony teaching me as a kid. And when I moved to the East Village in the late seventies I wanted to be a street performer, so I practiced daily. I never did work up the skills or the courage to perform on the street though.

  • Q

    How much of an interest do you think Nucky has in the arts and theater? He seems good friends with Eddie Cantor and Billie Kent. He used to hang out on the midway as a kid where he learned to juggle and I think he was a bit of a misfit and outcast. Do you think Nucky would have became an actor himself or have entered show business himself if he had the opportunity? Did he transfer his acting abilities to politics because he didn't see any credible financial potential for himself in show business?

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    Good questions. I think Nucky loves show business and secretly wishes he could be a performer. He loves telling jokes and of course as a politician he loves being on stage in front of an attentive audience. But I think he enjoys the real power of being a boss even more.

  • Q

    how hard is it for you to play an irish man while you are italian in real life?

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    I'm only Italian on my Dad's side. My Mom has some Irish in her.

  • Q

    Could you perhaps share with us some deeper aspects of Nucky that would give the audience reason to feel more empathy towards him?

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    Nucky is like most people, he wants things, things that he thinks will make him happy. He's also damaged goods, hard childhood, the loss of his son and wife. He's got a big heart, but he can't tolerate being crossed.

  • Q

    As an actor, do you prefer playing the short comedic roles like you did in movies such as Mr. Deeds and Grown ups, or do you prefer a more serious role such as the one you find yourself in now, as Nucky?

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    I love doing both and I'm extremely grateful to have the opportunity to work with Adam Sandler as well as doing Boardwalk.

  • Q

    What did you first think about your character?

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    I knew he would be a challenge for me to play, but one that I could have a lot of fun with. I liked him immediately.

  • Q

    How much of Nucky's relationship with Billie Kent was based around Nucky dealing and trying to escape from the Post-traumatic stress of killing Jimmy and being betrayed by Margaret with the land deal? Now that Billie is dead, will Nucky begin having nightmares of Jimmy again or will he just go right back to Margaret and use her to forget about it?

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    A
    Steve Buscemi says:

    I don't know what's in store for Nucky and I prefer not to know. As far as taking refuge with Billie Kent, all those reasons may be true, but I don't think Nucky sees it that way.

  • Q

    How does working with Scorsese/Winter differ to the Coen Brothers other than the obvious different artistic tastes?

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    All of the wonderful directors I've worked with, though their styles may be different, have one thing in common - they make you feel like a collaborator.

  • Q

    I love your work as a director; will you be directing any episodes of Boardwalk Empire?

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    I doubt it. I'd have to stand in the back of a very long line of amazing directors who work on our show and the rest that are hoping to direct. Plus, I have my plate full with playing Nucky. That's more than enough for me. But I do plan on directing more films. Thanks.

  • Q

    Does Nucky really love Margret? and now that she is pregnant how is it going to change things...

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    I do think Nucky really loves Margaret, no matter how angry he gets with her. Especially for signing away his land to the church! I hope they work things out, mainly because I want to continue working with Kelly, she's incredible. And I am sorry to see Charlie Cox go, he was great as Owen.

  • Q

    Do you get a chance to watch the show with the rest of us on Sunday evenings, and do you have a favorite episode of the season thus far?

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    A
    Steve Buscemi says:

    My wife and I try and watch the show every Sunday when it airs. I don't have a favorite episode, but I loved playing Nucky when he had a concussion from the explosion.

  • Q

    Do you consider Nucky Thompson to be a villain or a hero?

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    A
    Steve Buscemi says:

    He's neither in my book. But others see him as both I suppose.

  • Q

    How does the intensity of this role compare to your work in "Parting Glances", another intense role?

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    A
    Steve Buscemi says:

    I loved playing Nick in Parting Glances, and actually the roles are similar in that both characters are smart, funny, and dark, but with a heart.

  • Q

    How hard it is to do a scene with Mr. Kessler without laughin out?? He's hilarious! Greetings from Brasil!

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    Steve Buscemi says:

    I love working with Anthony! It's the closest I will come to feeling like Laurel & Hardy. Nucky loves Eddie Kessler, which is why he treats him so badly sometimes. It actually hurts Nucky's feelings when Eddie appears to do something wrong. Long live Eddie Kessler!

  • Q

    That's all the time we have for today's Steve Buscemi Q&A. Steve, is there anything else you'd like to say to your fans?

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    A
    Steve Buscemi says:

    Thanks for all of your questions and for watching the show! I do want to remind people that many New Yorkers are still struggling in the aftermath of Sandy. Please help however you can, be it volunteering or donations. One organization I work with is Friends of Firefighters, because I believe if you help our first responders, you're helping the whole community. Please check out friendsoffirefighters.org and help spread the word. New York will bounce back, but we can really use your help. Thanks so much. Peace.

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