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What Steve Buscemi's Big Globe Win Means (But He Doubts It)

Boardwalk Empire
Abbot Genser

Everyone knew Boardwalk Empire had a great shot at a Globe, but Steve Buscemi's upset victory over Jon Hamm signifies a new stage of his career and a deepening of TV entertainment.

Even some of his biggest fans were skeptical that uber-antihero Buscemi could score as a gang leader in a Scorsese-backed mob picture. The favorite, on the GoldDerby pundit poll and elsewhere, was the seemingly inevitable Mad Men man of distinction, Hamm, favored 2-to-1.

But Hamm is old news (still phenomenal), and Buscemi signifies something new and exciting: the migration not only of episodic drama and indie style from movies to TV, but epic drama of Shakespearean scope. Buscemi used to be typecast as a supporting actor, because he was an indie staple of Coen films and others. This was partly because he's so odd-looking -- his first break was a role as a sardonic man dying of AIDS. I saluted him, but never would have predicted that his bug eyes, gaunt cheeks and snagglier-than-Austin-Powers teeth belonged to a leading man who kills at will and rules every man, woman and child in the microcosmic universe of Atlantic City. He embodies irony. How can he also embody titanic power and moral struggle as oceanic as the Atlantic?

But he pulled it off. And entertainment is deeper because of it. And Jon Hamm is still nonpareil.

"This was the easiest casting decision in the world to me," says the show's creator/exec producer Terence Winter. "Every time I’ve seen him in a movie, I see his name, and I know that part is going to big, I know that part is going to be great." You've never seen anything like Buscemi, and you've never seen this milieu before. "This time in history hasn’t been explored at all. Not really on TV since The Untouchables in 1960. As old as the material is, it is so fresh again. The show has so much going for it, the visuals, the gangsters, the amazing cast, so many things you can point to, and our fans are varied. It’s an irresistible time in history."

So where does Boardwalk Empire go next? "Forward in time! We are going to explore the '20s. I hope to end the show at the start of the Korean War."
But Buscemi characteristically still isn't convinced he's leading-man material. "[Laughs] I still have my doubts! But I trust these guys. It’s the best job I’ve ever had."