For those unaware of Steve's past, the Boardwalk Empire actor was a firefighter for the New York Fire Department before he became an actor. Then, in 2001, Judd said, "When 9/11 happened he went and he helped clean up Ground Zero and he stayed very close to the firefighting world."
It was through this work that Steve and Pete first encountered each other, as the Saturday Night Live actor lost his father Scott Davidson in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers.
The director reveals that in the process of casting for the film, Pete brought this up, telling him, "I found a picture of me with Steve Buscemi in it."
"He sent me this picture which is Pete at an event for the kids of fallen firefighters," the director explained. "And there's little Pete and in the background and a quarter of Steve Buscemi's face."
Judd recalled seeing this photo, describing, "Sometimes it feels magical, the universe is telling you. 'Oh, we need to try to use this connection. There's something special here.'"
This happened time and again, with him and Pete choosing Bill Burr for another role, simply because the comedian was a huge influence on Pete in his teens. Judd said, "So very early on, Bill Burr's name came up, but I knew that Pete really looked up to him. He was an important person in his life."
Judd went on to relay a story Pete told him, sharing, "And when he was a kid, he went to see him when he was like 14 or 15 years old, and walked up to him like at an elevator in Atlantic City with his mom. And his mom was like, 'He wants to be a comedian too!' Years later, when he met him when he was doing stand up when he was like 17 or 18, Bill remembered that. I'm sure he was still kind of like a striking young kid."
Judd said the movie was "so personal" to Pete, he wanted to create a world that the SNL star was "comfortable with."
Pete voiced appreciation for Judd and the crew's attention to detail in an interview last June. "I think it could have been a lot worse if Judd and the crew weren't so sensitive to my feelings," he told host Seth Meyers. "They really made me feel comfortable. So, it was definitely a cathartic experience and it definitely made me feel a lot better as a person."