The Tragic Death Of Steve Buscemi's Wife

Shortly after his wife Jo Andres passed away in January 2019, actor Steve Buscemi took the stage at CinemaCon, where he accepted the Icon Award. During his speech, the Boardwalk Empire star attributed his success to the love and support of his wife and family. "You know this business can be a challenge to relationships, but you know you stick it out and there are rewards," Buscemi told the audience that April (via E! News). "And I'm so grateful to her."

But in the months since the 64-year-old filmmaker's death, Buscemi spoke little about his grief. However, in a rare interview with GQ in May 2020, the actor opened up about life without his beloved partner by his side. "If I should happen to go not suddenly, I hope I could be as present as Jo was," he said. "She led the way. She was surrounded by friends and family. She really faced it. I really don't think she was afraid of dying. I think it was just a whole series of 'Oh, I don't get to do this anymore.'"

Buscemi's wife passed away after her years-long battle with ovarian cancer. Andres, the artist and choreographer who directed Black Kites, met Buscemi in 1983 in NYC's East Village. Although Andres was three years his senior, the couple had an undeniable connection and married in 1987. From that day on, the pair promised to spend no more than three weeks away from one another — until tragedy struck unexpectedly.

Steve Buscemi's wife Jo Andres helped the 'very shy' actor learn to trust himself more

When Jo Andres was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2015, she and husband Steve Buscemi held onto hope when her chemotherapy led to remission. However, in 2017, the cancer returned with a vengeance and never faded. As he told GQ, "The pain was the hardest thing. People who are going through that, it's painful. It's painful to die from cancer. There's just no way around it."

However, during the early days of their courtship, Buscemi and Andres were as lovestruck as they come. While Andres would jokingly tell her friends, "I'm going to snag that guy," Buscemi purposely walked his dog when he knew Andres was on her way to or from work, hoping to run into her. But while Andres was renowned within the performance art community, Buscemi was a firefighter by day and aspiring actor by night. "I was very shy," he explained. "I would look around the East Village and see all these cool-looking people and felt like I could not fit in."

It was Andres' influence, however, that helped an anxious Buscemi trust himself more. "Jo really trusted her intuition and would just kind of put images out there and didn't feel the need to have to explain it or have to make sense," Buscemi added. "She just had to feel a certain way, like she was trying to evoke a feeling, or a mood."

Steve Buscemi and Jo Andres built their careers around family

Before Steve Buscemi and Jo Andres walked down the aisle, the star booked 1986's Parting Glances, in which Buscemi played a gay man dying of AIDS. This ultimately launched his film career. But as Buscemi and Andres began life as husband and wife, the couple soon settled into a quieter rhythm as they welcomed son Lucian.

Buscemi told GQ he and Andres eventually started a regular meditation practice and bought a property upstate so they could escape the city. And, no matter where work took him, the pair promised to never go more than three weeks without seeing one another. "It just became unbearable after three weeks," he explained.

However, when Lucian was a teen, Buscemi made an exception while filming John Rabe in Shanghai. "I thought, at the time, Well, he's in high school. He doesn't care," he recalled. But this experience renewed his belief that simply being present can have a positive impact on familial relationships. "I really feel like, Oh, I wish I was around more. With parenting, it sometimes doesn't matter if you're relating to your kid or talking. Just the fact that you're there goes a long way, even if they're ignoring the hell out of you."

Now Buscemi simply hopes Lucian will forgive his "hoarder" tendencies when he dies. "He'd be the only one when I'm gone," he said. "It's him that's going to have to go through everything." What an ominous thought!

Steve Buscemi has spent lockdown at the brownstone he shared with late wife

Steve Buscemi has never been one to turn his back on NYC in times of pain. He volunteered alongside fellow firefighters to clear ash and debris after the Sept. 11 attacks, and now Buscemi has been on lockdown inside the brownstone he shared with wife Jo Andres as the city battles coronavirus. "One of the things that I think a disaster brings out is that people really support each other and help each other," he told GQ in May 2020. "It feels so weird not to be able to be with people."

Buscemi added that he and one of his brothers visited his mother at her assisted-living home on Staten Island to celebrate her birthday through the window. While "she has a pretty good sense of humor about the whole thing," Buscemi admitted that "it's hard on us all" to be so isolated. But despite this struggle, it seems Buscemi has found peace during these trying times.

"It's been over a year now since Jo passed, and I'm just starting to feel lighter. It is very strange that, oh, now this is happening. If it was another personal thing, I think that would be really hard," he added. "But the fact that everybody's going through it doesn't feel as isolating. It feels like it's something that we're doing together." We hope Buscemi can hold onto this new calm as he moves into the next phase of life.