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Steve Buscemi brings new bag of tricks to 'Incredible Burt Wonderstone'

Published On: Mar 14 2013 02:22:37 PM CDT
Steve Buscemi The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Warner Bros.

Steve Buscemi in "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone."

Although they play legendary magicians in the new comedy "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," one trick Steve Carell said he'll never attempt is the disappearing act his fellow star, Steve Buscemi, pulled off in Joel and Ethan Coen's 1996 movie classic "Fargo."

And yes, that would be where Buscemi disappears into a wood chipper …

"And never to be seen again," Carell told me with a laugh in a recent interview. "There was no encore with that one."

Carell said Buscemi didn't give him any tips on how to disappear in a wood chipper during their preparations for "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," because after all, there's no way around your fate when you disappear into such a device.

"If you're going to do it you're going to have to commit -- and hope there is an afterlife," Carell quipped.

In a separate interview, Buscemi told me people still bring up the "Fargo" wood chipper scene to him -- 17 years after the fact -- even though he's technically not in it.

"I get complimented on that scene a lot," Buscemi deadpanned.

Opening in theaters nationwide on Friday, "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" stars 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 breakup -- maybe for good.

Buscemi said he loved the idea of "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" not only for its comedic premise, but for the film's 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 Anton 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."