22 years ago, on September 11, 2001, Steve Buscemi returned to the fire station where he volunteered as a teenager. Considered one of the best actors of our time, Buscemi has appeared in multiple of the best Quentin Tarantino movies and regularly collaborates with the Coen Brothers to craft memorable, quirky characters.
By 2001, he’d already appeared in some of the best movies ever made. But none of that mattered when the 9/11 attacks took place, plunging New York into a national tragedy. At eighteen years old, Buscemi took the Fire Department of the City of New York Civil Service Test, and spent the ’80s working as a firefighter in Manhattan station, Engine Co. 55.
Even after leaving the fire service to become an actor, he kept in touch with Engine Co. 55, and returned to that very station in the days following 9/11.
While Buscemi, who also appeared in The Sopranos, one of the best drama series ever, has always been reluctant to talk about his experience on Ground Zero — where he spent five days working twelve-hour shifts trying to find survivors of the attacks — he opened up about it during an appearance on Marc Mahon’s WTF podcast to commemorate the tragedy’s twentieth anniversary.
“I just didn’t have any information,” the thriller movie actor said. “I kept calling the fire house the day before and of course there was no answer. Because I knew that they would be there. And then I eventually learned that five of them were missing. One of them was a good friend of mine I used to work with.”
Buscemi continued, “I was driven to the site that day, walked around for hours and then found my company, found Engine 55 working there. I asked if I could join them. I could tell they were a little suspicious at first, but I worked with them that day.”
Recounting his several days volunteering, the drama movie star said he was “grateful” to help Engine 55 during this time. “I was privileged enough to have access to the site and be in the thick of it, and just experience the humanity of what was going on there.”
343 firefighters gave their lives helping others in the aftermath of September 11. To donate to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, click here.