Boardwalk Empire returns on September 8th, and at this point, it really has become my favorite fall series of the year. While The Walking Dead can be brilliant, but very inconsistent, and while Homeland has dropped off after its first season, Boardwalk Empire has managed to grow into a better show each successive season, culminating last season in a phenomenal year that elevated the likes of Charlie Cox, Jack Huston, and Stephen Graham into stand-out supporting performers.
That’s been the blessing of Boardwalk Empire, too: It has such a sprawling cast, that even when characters are picked off, there’s someone else to mature into the season’s scene stealer. This year, in addition to the phenomenal returning cast, will also see the introduction of characters played by Ron Livingston and Jeffrey Goddamn Wright, and an elevated role for Michael K. Williams’ Chalky White.
It should be a fantastic fourth season, one of the major highlights in a crowded Sunday night field. Before the season kicks off, however, I thought we’d take a look at some of the more interesting, surprising, and fascinating facts about the cast of Boardwalk Empire.
1. Before he became an actor, Steve Buscemi spent four years as a firefighter in the Little Italy section of NY. In fact, after 9/11, he showed up to his old fire house and worked 12 hour shifts every day for a week.
2. Back in 2001, Steve Buscemi was stabbed four times, including once IN THE NECK and nearly died in a bar brawl, along with Vince Vaughn, after two North Carolinians picked a fight with Vaughn when the girlfriend of one of the men hit on him. The guy who stabbed Buscemi, a college kid, was sentenced to 25 months in prison, and Buscemi still has a scar on his cheek, though it is covered in heavy makeup for his film and television appearances.
3. Steve Buscemi also auditioned for George Costanza on Seinfeld.
4. Steve Buscemi is also best friends with Stanley Tucci (in fact, he was the best man at Tucci’s wedding to Felicity Blunt, who is Emily Blunt’s sister, making Tucci and Jon Krasinski brothers-in-law). I mentioned this in a Sons of Anarchy piece, but it’s worth re-mentioning that Buscemi is also close friends with Mark Boone Junior, who was Buscemi’s writing/theater partner in the early part of their career. Here’s a rare live performance of the two from way, way back in the day.
Buscemi is also married to this woman, Jo Andres.
5. Michael Pitt, who played Jimmy Darmody in Boardwalk Empire, is the guitarist and singer for the Nirvana-sounding band Pagoda.
6. Back in 2002, Michael Pitt and his then girlfriend Alexis Dziena were in Joey Ramone’s music video for “What a Wonderful World.”
7. Pitt also played Henry in Dawson’s Creek, a gig he landed after someone in casting at Dawson’s saw his stage work.
8. Kelly MacDonald’s screen debut was in Trainspotting, where she can be seen nude. However, she refuses now to do nude scenes, and in fact, won’t even be filmed in a bikini.
9. Michael Shannon’s very first screen role was in House of Pain’s video, Every Mother’s Nightmare. It’s super cool to see a young General Zod in this, but I would advise you to do so on mute. The song is terrible.
10. For whatever reason, Michael Shannon has also been in a ton of Michael Bay movies, including the Bay produced Kangaroo Jack, which has to feel like some kind of career low for the guy.
And though everyone already knows this, if I don’t mention it, I’ll get yelled at: Shannon was also in Groundhog Day.