My Secret Life: Steve Buscemi

Actor, 52
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The Independent Online

My parents were ... both working class and they were also incredibly decent people; they are both still around and relatively healthy. They are proud of my success, even though they had their doubts when I was younger.

The house/flat I grew up in ... was in Brooklyn. There were four boys and my parents in a one-bedroom apartment. My parents slept in a pull-out couch in the living room and my brothers and I shared the bedroom.

When I was a child I wanted to be ... Being an actor was not something that seemed realistic to me. It was only when I was a senior in high school doing school plays that I realised that it was something that I loved.

The first time I got drunk ... was probably with my friend at a party on Long Island. I mostly hung out with the jocks at school, I didn't hang out with the theatre kids. I used to wrestle and play soccer.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at ... sports. I'd play American football, baseball and wrestle when I was at high school. My favourite was wrestling. I liked the individuality of it.

You wouldn't know it but I'm no good at ... exercising regularly.

I drive ... a Volvo station-wagon.

If I could change one thing about myself ... it would be to have more discipline to exercise. I am trying, but I get lazy. I like to keep in shape; sometimes it's walking or weights or push-ups.

When I look in the mirror ... I see two blue eyes surrounded by age.

My favourite item of clothing is ... probably jeans and a T-shirt. I don't put a lot of thought into clothing.

I wish I'd never worn ... a peach-coloured tuxedo to my prom. It wasn't very flattering. My date had already bought her gown and she asked me to match it.

A book that changed me ... was 'On the Road', which I read when I was about 19. It opened up this whole new world to me. Afterwards I read Jack Kerouac's biography and it explained who all the characters in 'On the Road' were.

Movie heaven is ... silent films, things like Frank Borzage's 'Seventh Heaven'; there was a real artistry to them; that basic but compelling storytelling is hard to do.

The person who really makes me laugh ... is Buster Keaton. He never fails. He was both funny and an incredible film-maker.

The last time I cried was ... when I was dropping my son Lucian off at college, about a week ago.

My favourite work of art is ... probably something by my wife Jo Andres. She paints, she makes films, she has done performance.

My favourite building is ... any generic tenement building. I love my neighbourhood in Brooklyn; it has lots of brownstones. I really love buildings with front stoops.

My biggest regret is ... that I don't write more. I don't have the discipline to do it as much as I should; I know I can when I need to, but I have to have a deadline.

My five-year plan is ... something I've thought about. I've recently started a production company with Stanley Tucci and Wren Arthur, who used to produce for Robert Altman. That's the first time I've started thinking about where I want to be.

What's the point? I like to work, I like my family, I like my friends. Not in that order, though.

My life in six words ... Who the hell can answer that?

A life in brief

Steve Buscemi was born in Brooklyn, New York in December, 1957. An actor and film director, his breakthrough role came in Quentin Tarantino's acclaimed 1992 debut Reservoir Dogs. He has since starred in Fargo and The Big Lebowski. He lives in New York with his wife and son, and his latest film Rage – an insider's view of the fashion industry – is released on 24 September