Comedian and actor Steve Rannazzisi said lying about his experience concerning the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, was terrible, but never a calculated move.
On Tuesday, Rannazzisi, one of the stars of FX’s The League, did his first interview on SiriusXM’s Howard Stern Show after going off the grid for weeks following his admission in The New York Times revealing his story was a lie. He subsequently apologized for his actions in a statement and on Twitter.
As a young man, I made a mistake that I deeply regret and for which apologies may still not be enough.
— Stephen Rannazzisi (@SteveRannazzisi) September 16, 2015
“It’s not like I moved to Los Angeles with this story, with the thought of ‘I’m going to go out and trick everyone out there and tell them this is what it is,’ ” Rannazzisi told Stern, whose show is taped in New York. “You have like 15 seconds, I think, to go, ‘Wait, no, I’m sorry, that’s not true.’ ”
A young comedian on the circuit in L.A., Rannazzisi said he thought he might be cut more slack by those around him if they thought he had been there on that fateful day.
Then stars heard the story. “Now I don’t know how to ever tell anyone this is not true,” Rannazzisi said regarding celebrities who bonded with him over the tale.
“The hurt and the pain and the nervousness that you hear now comes from — because I know what I did was terrible,” said Rannazzisi. “I know that I hurt a lot of people, people that lost people, people that helped people survive. And those are the people that I am truly sorry [for]. I feel awful that my dumb mistake created a story that just hit a wound that should never have been touched.”
Rannazzisi, whose wife also lied about the story on his behalf, said that once he lied the first time about what happened, he was compelled to keep the falsehood going each time he was asked.
In various interviews he gave before coming clean, Rannazzisi said the World Trade Center attacks propelled him to move to Los Angeles and pursue comedy, leaving his account manager post at Merrill Lynch, which he claimed was on the 54th floor of the south tower.
Buffalo Wild Wings dropped Rannazzisi as its spokesman following his admission.