Steve Buscemi breaks from 'Boardwalk' for 'Burt Wonderstone'

KAREN BUTLER, United Press International
Photo of Steve Buscemi and Steve Carell from The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, courtesy of Warner Bros.
Photo of Steve Buscemi and Steve Carell from "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," courtesy of Warner Bros.

LAS VEGAS, March 16 (UPI) -- Actor Steve Buscemi says he signed on to play a Las Vegas stage magician in the new big-screen comedy "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone because the project was "the total package."

The 55-year-old New York native is best known for his work on TV's "Boardwalk Empire" and "The Sopranos," as well as in the films "Reservoir Dogs," "Fargo," "Armageddon," "Con Air," "Monsters Inc.," "Ghost World" and numerous Adam Sandler movies.


In "Wonderstone," Buscemi and Steve Carell play childhood friends who become flamboyant, Siegfried & Roy-type showmen-magicians Anton and Burt in Vegas, but end their partnership after an epic falling-out. When an edgy new street illusionist, played by Jim Carrey, appears on the scene and wows the crowds, Burt tries to convince Anton to start up the act again and win back their fans.

"It was the whole package," Buscemi told United Press International in a recent phone interview from Las Vegas.

"[Director] Don Scardino, who I worked with a little bit on '30 Rock,' and I just thought the script was very funny and knowing Carell would be playing Burt Wonderstone," Buscemi said. "So, it was working with Don Scardino, the script, Steve Carell. The timing with 'Boardwalk' worked out perfectly, so it was a no-brainer when they offered me the film."

Buscemi said his tendency to work repeatedly with actors and directors, who have become friends over the years, helped him understand Burt and Anton's relationship.

"I used to do a lot of theater in the '80s and I had a partner. We used to write and perform our own work and he's an actor on the show 'Sons of Anarchy' now -- Mark Boone Jr. So I actually had the experience of working with a partner and how much fun that is and how much better it made me as an actor and writer. But it also could be a challenge because we both have pretty strong personalities and it's a lot of work to keep that going," Buscemi noted.

Asked how his glitzy costumes and perfectly coiffed hair helped him get into character as Anton, Buscemi acknowledged, they "speak volumes."

"It's really trying to live up to that look," he added.

"It's very exciting as an actor to have parts where you transform yourself. There's nothing quite like it when you get to play dress-up."

Discussing his body of work, which is not only varied but widely respected by his peers, Buscemi said he is guided by one basic principle -- "I usually just like to work with people I admire."

So, how does he manage to fit those side jobs in to his busy schedule, while also leading the cast of "Boardwalk Empire?"

"Luckily, we have a big cast for 'Boardwalk,' so there are built-in breaks for me. So, I can usually get a few days off here and there if I'm doing a voice-over or I'm doing an Adam Sandler film. They're really good at working with me. It's nice. It's nice to break it up like that," said the actor, who has won Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards for his work in the Prohibition-era New Jersey-set drama series, which recently wrapped its third season.

"The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" is in theaters now.

Latest Headlines