Actor Steve Buscemi Reveals Struggles with PTSD Following 9/11 Ground Zero Experience.

This weekend marked the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a solemn occasion prompting people across the country to reflect on the heroes of that tragic day. Among the responders at Ground Zero was Steve Buscemi, renowned as an acclaimed actor rather than a firefighter. Two decades later, he is opening up about the profound toll those days took on him and his fellow responders.

Despite his memorable roles in various genres, Buscemi has been one of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces. From supporting roles in iconic films like Reservoir Dogs, Fargo, and The Big Lebowski to his Golden Globe-winning lead role in Boardwalk Empire, Buscemi has been a fan favorite for decades.

However, many who have enjoyed his on-screen performances might not be aware that Buscemi worked at Ground Zero after 9/11, volunteering with his former fire department.

In the early 1980s, Buscemi served as a firefighter with Engine 55 in Lower Manhattan while pursuing an acting career on the side. He found a “brotherhood” with his fellow firefighters but eventually left the job when his acting career took off. However, over a decade later, the day after 9/11, Buscemi returned to assist his old colleagues in Engine 55 at Ground Zero.

“When 9/11 happened, I came back here on the 12th and had my gear. I still had my old turnout coat and my helmet and the boots,” Buscemi revealed to CBS News in 2014.

Despite being a well-established actor, Buscemi maintained a low-key profile during his time at Ground Zero. For that week, he wasn’t a celebrity but just one of the firefighters, diligently searching for bodies in the rubble.

In a piece for Time, Buscemi described a “feeling of connection” with his fellow firefighters, although the dust and debris transformed the scene into something unrecognizable and otherworldly. Responders acknowledged the hazardous conditions they faced, highlighting the unity and shared purpose in the face of an unimaginable tragedy.

“This is probably going to kill us in 20 years,” someone said, and those words from the aftermath of 9/11 ended up being eerily prescient. In the past two decades, numerous first responders have been diagnosed with health issues linked to their work at the World Trade Center site, including fatal respiratory illnesses.

“I don’t know if anything could have stopped any of the first responders and the volunteers who were there to do this enormous job. But it would have been good to at least know of the dangers going in,” Steve Buscemi expressed in an interview with Marc Maron, as reported by CBS News. “You could just feel it, like that it was not safe.”

In recent years, Buscemi expressed dismay after firefighters had to lobby Congress for more funding for the Victim Compensation Fund—a cause championed by another celebrity, Jon Stewart, along with activist John Feal.

“’Never forget,’ everyone said. Some people have no choice. What’s surprising is who has to be reminded,” Buscemi wrote in Time.

“Never forget, because people are still struggling. People are still dying.”

While Steve Buscemi has not experienced any physical effects or illnesses from his time at Ground Zero, he has disclosed the mental toll it took on him. The actor recently revealed that he suffers from PTSD as a result of his volunteer work in the aftermath of 9/11.

“I was only there for like five days, but when I stopped going and sort of tried to just live my life again, it was really, really hard,” Buscemi shared with Marc Maron. “I was depressed. I was anxious. I couldn’t make a simple decision.”

Despite acknowledging that it “actually felt good” to work with his fellow firefighters on the scene, thanks to the brotherhood and camaraderie, the emotional impact caught up with him later.

“It wasn’t until I got home that the magnitude of it all caught up with me,” he wrote in Time. “I was already seeing a therapist, and though it was almost impossible to process the enormity of what had happened, just having someone with whom to sit with all the feelings was a consolation.”

While it’s heartbreaking to learn about Buscemi’s struggles with PTSD, he is hailed as a true hero, not only for his bravery after 9/11 but also for his ongoing advocacy on behalf of responders.