Monday, May 27, 2024

Steve Buscemi proudly served New York as firefighter before random violent attack

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New footage of Steve Buscemi moments before he was attacked in New York last week has emerged.

Video obtained by CBS New York showed the actor looking at his phone just moments before he was randomly punched by a person on the street.

Buscemi can be seen walking on Third Avenue just before 12 p.m. May 8, when he looks up to greet someone and cross East 27th Street.

Moments after that footage was captured, police say a man wearing blue punched Buscemi unprovoked. On Tuesday, the NYPD said it had identified the suspect wanted in the incident as 50-year-old Clifton Williams, according to FOX 5.

Steve Buscemi was attacked in New York City last week by a random man. (Arturo Holmes/WireImage)


Buscemi’s publicist confirmed the news to Fox News Digital Sunday, saying, “Steve Buscemi was assaulted in midtown Manhattan, another victim of a random act of violence in the city. He is OK and appreciates everyone’s well wishes, though (he’s) incredibly sad for everyone that this has happened to him while also walking the streets of New York.”

The actor was taken to a hospital with bruising, swelling and bleeding to his left eye.

A photo from NYPD Crimsestoppers showing a man in a blue shirt and black pants walking

NYPD is searching for the suspect who attacked actor Steve Buscemi while he was walking in Manhattan Wednesday morning.  (New York Post)

Buscemi’s “Boardwalk Empire” co-star Michael Stuhlbarg was also assaulted in New York recently.

In March, the actor was walking near Central Park, when he was allegedly struck in the back of the head with a rock by Xavier Israel, a 27-year-old homeless man, a DPCI spokesperson told Fox News Digital at the time.


Israel was charged with assault in the second degree and was taken to central booking. Police say this is not Israel’s first offense. He was arrested twice in January 2022 for alleged assault and robbery.

Michael Stuhlbarg in a black suit and tie soft smiles on the carpet

Buscemi’s “Boardwalk Empire” co-star Michael Stuhlbarg was also the victim of a random attack in New York in March. (Dia Dipasupil/WireImage/Getty Images)

The attack on Buscemi came after a March interview with The Wall Street Journal, when he reflected on his life growing up in Brooklyn and the Long Island suburbs and how he found both firefighting and acting.

A family friend, actor Peter Miller, who had appeared in “Blackboard Jungle” and “The Delinquents” spoke with Buscemi’s father about acting, saying, “If this is what Steve is interested in, get him into an acting school to take classes.”

“So my dad and I picked up brochures at Manhattan’s Neighborhood Playhouse and the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, where I interviewed and was accepted,” Buscemi recalled. “I had a little settlement set aside after a city bus hit me when I was 4. I used part of the $6,000 on acting classes.”

Portrait of Steve Buscemi against a brick wall

Before he was a full-time actor, Buscemi worked as a firefighter. (Maria Moratti/Getty Images)


As he studied, he also became a firefighter at the urging of his father, a sanitation worker, “in case acting didn’t work out.”

“He said, ‘Work as a firefighter, retire after 20 years and then act all you want.’ I told him it didn’t really work like that,” Buscemi told the WSJ. “And it didn’t. After my first break in the 1986 film ‘Parting Glances,’ I left the FDNY.”

Even though he had gained success as an actor with roles in “Miller’s Crossing” and “Reservoir Dogs,” his parents were still uncertain about his future.

“Whenever I wrapped a project, we had this routine. My dad would say, ‘So what’s next?’ I’d say, ‘Actually, I don’t know.’ He’d say, ‘Oh, so you’re unemployed,’” the 66-year-old said.

Young Steve Buscemi in 1992

Buscemi in 1992, the year he appeared in his breakout role in “Reservoir Dogs.” (Erin Combs/Toronto Star via Getty Images)


“I’d say, ‘Well, I’m technically between films, but yeah, unemployed.’ Eventually they relaxed. They saw I was going to be OK.”

Buscemi had been away from firefighting for 15 years before 9/11.

The “Sopranos” star decided to volunteer with his old engine company, something that went largely unnoticed until 2013, when the Brotherhood of Fire Facebook page posted a photo of Buscemi.

The Brotherhood of Fire wrote, “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 Firefighter. 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.

Steve Buscemi shaking hands with New York fire officials

Buscemi greets firefighters after a memorial service at Old St. Pat’s Church Sept. 11, 2011, in New York City to mark the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


“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.

“Very few photographs and no interviews exist because he declined them. He wasn’t there for the publicity.”

Buscemi kept mostly private about his work with the fire department on 9/11 but has occasionally opened up over the years.

In 2014, Buscemi appeared in an HBO documentary about the work of firefighters and the struggles they face, “A Good Job: Stories of the FDNY.”

Steve Buscemi, commissioner of the New York City Fire Department Daniel A. Nigro and producer Wren Arthur posing together

Buscemi, New York City Fire Department Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro and producer Wren Arthur attend the New York premiere of “A Good Job: Stories Of The FDNY” at Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema Sept. 4, 2014, in New York City. (Jim Spellman/WireImage)


“Firefighters are great at helping others,” Buscemi told “CBS Sunday Morning” at the time. “They’re great at helping each other. But they’re not always — you know, they don’t always know that they, themselves, are in need, you know?  

“Their first reaction would be, ‘Oh, the next guy has it worse, you know? It was nothing, you know, that I went through. It wasn’t just that bad. But that guy?  Oh, that family, you know? They had it worse. So, what right do I have to seek any kind of help?’” 

He noted that, like his father, his fellow firefighters thought it was crazy to give up the job because “nobody leaves this job.”

“You just don’t – you don’t leave – first of all, a great job like this, and then a secure job,” he said. 

On “WTF With Marc Maron” in 2021, Buscemi said, “I was depressed. I was anxious. I couldn’t make a simple decision.”

He called the firehouse multiple times that day. When he didn’t get an answer, he went down to Ground Zero in person, where he saw the company working.

Steve Buscemi close up

Buscemi recalled going to volunteer with his old firehouse on and after 9/11, saying firefighters were “suspicious” at first but welcomed his help. (Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)


“I asked if I could join them,” Buscemi said. “I could tell they were a little suspicious at first, but I worked with them that day.”

He worked with fellow first responders for five days, pulling 12-hour shifts.

“There was something about being there that was also very comforting, and I remember that surprising me,” he told “CBS Sunday Morning” in 2014. “I went there to help, but I was the one who was – who was helped, you know? It really helped me.”

Buscemi told Maron on “WTF” he hasn’t experienced any physical health issues since his work at Ground Zero, “but definitely, yeah, post-traumatic stress? Absolutely. I was only there for like five days, but when I stopped going and tried to just live my life again, it was really, really hard.”

Close up profile of Steve Buscemi

Buscemi said he hasn’t felt any physical health effects from working at Ground Zero. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)


“There are times when I talk about 9/11, and I’m right back there,” he added. “I start to get choked up, and I realize, ‘Ah, this is still a big part of me.’”

The “Big Lebowski” star was given the keys to the city in 2021 by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“This is such an honor to be here with you today to receive this, to have friends and family here,” Buscemi said during a press conference. “Before being an actor, I had one of the greatest jobs in New York City … at Engine 55 in Little Italy, and I’ll always be grateful to them for allowing me to work beside them in the aftermath of 9/11.”

Buscemi is still on the advisory council for Friends of Firefighters, an organization dedicated to New York firefighters and their families, alongside Gary Sinise, filmmaker Kevin Smith and rocker Dee Snider. 

Fox News Digital’s Caroline Thayer and Stepheny Price contributed to this report. 

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