Seventeen years after his "disappearing act" into a wood chipper in "Fargo," celebrated actor Steve Buscemi is about to try a new kind of magic.
Opening in theaters nationwide on Friday, "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" stars Steve Carell in the title role and Buscemi as Anton Marvelton, a pair of longtime friends who've grow tired of each other years after starting off magician team in their youth.
Facing obscurity after an extreme street magician (Jim Carrey) shows up on the Las Vegas strip and threatens their once immense popularity, Burt and Anton attempt a new stunt that turns out to be a disaster, leading to their inevitable break-up -- maybe for good.
Buscemi told me in a recent interview that he loved the idea of "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" not only for its comedic promise, but for a wonderful story of friendship.
"These guys really do love each other underneath it all -- they just got to a place where they lost sight of what they're about or why they're doing it," Buscemi said. "At its heart it’s a movie about friendship and also about taking risks and keeping things fresh."
The first risk the duo takes is being hoisted 100 feet off the street in a clear glass contraption known as the "hot box," which was also a risk for the actors because it was really shot with Buscemi and Carell stuck in the thing 100 feet in the air.
"It wasn't as bad as I thought, but it was pretty dicey, because we were up pretty high -- but what a way to do a scene. You don't have to imagine that," Buscemi said, laughing. It does all the acting work for you."
"The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" features a cavalcade of talented performers, including Alan Arkin as Rance Holloway, the magician who inspired Burt to become an illusionist; to James Gandolfini, who plays a big wheel casino owner who is forced to sever ties with Burt and Anton after their partnership falls apart. Olivia Wilde also stars as Jane, Burt and Anton's beleaguered assistant who may just have a trick or two of her own up her sleeve.
Carell, who also served as one of the film's producers, said given Buscemi's diverse background, the "Boardwalk Empire" star was a perfect fit to play Burt's partner.
"He is a really gifted actor -- he could have played any character in the movie and done it exceptionally well. That's the kind of actor he is. He's also an incredibly generous and a kind good person, which is always nice when you're working closely with people," Carell said. "When we read the script, he was the first one that came to mind. He's the first one I saw in that character. He can be dramatic, he can be comedic -- and he's always truthful. You always believe him. You never see him act. It's always just a very effortless thing for him."
As much as Buscemi appreciates the compliments, he humbly admitted that a magician like the one he played in "The Amazing Burt Wonderstone" is the one who really deserves the credit.
"To be able to make it in Las Vegas, you really have to be super-talented and a hard worker," Buscemi said. "They work much harder than I can. They're really amazing. I've always had a respect for what they do, but working so close to the business in this, I'm really in awe."
See the trailer for the film below.
Bring Me The News film critic Tim Lammers is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and annually votes on the Critics Choice Movie Awards. Locally, he reviews films on “KARE 11 News at 11” and WCCO Radio. As a feature writer, Tim has interviewed more than 1,000 major actors and filmmakers throughout his career and his work is syndicated nationwide.