For years Steve Rannazzisi told anyone who would listen about how his experiences on 9/11 inspired him to be an actor. Now, he says it was all a lie. The actor, known mostly for his role in the sitcom The League, released a statement saying that he completely fabricated his story about being in the south tower when the second plane hit on that fateful day.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Blamed His Lie on ‘an Early Taste of Having a Public Persona’
In a statement from his publicist, Matthew Labov, via the New York Times, Rannazzisi said “I was not at the Trade Center on that day. I don’t know why I said this. This was inexcusable. I am truly, truly sorry. It was profoundly disrespectful to those who perished and those who lost loved ones. The stupidity and guilt I have felt for many years has not abated. It was an early taste of having a public persona, and I made a terrible mistake. All I can ask is for forgiveness.” The Times notes that it’s “unclear how Mr. Rannazzisi’s admission might affect his standing with networks or sponsors, including Buffalo Wild Wings.” In a statement, that restaurant chain said “We are disappointed to learn of Steve’s misrepresentations regarding the events of September 11, 2001. We are currently re-evaluating our relationship with Steve pending a review of all the facts.” His stand-up special, Breaking Dad, airs on Comedy Central on September 19.
2. Rannazzisi Told Marc Maron in 2009 That He Still Had Dreams About Falling
In 2009, Rannazzisi made an appearance on Marc Maron’s podcast where he talked a length about his “experiences” on 9/11. The actor said “I was there and then the first tower got hit and we were like jostled all over the place…I still have dreams of like, you know, those falling dreams.” Then, in 2011, he told the Sklarbro Country podcast “I’ve spoken about it before. I just don’t want to feel like, anyone, I am cashing in or anything like that.” You can listen to the interview above.
3. In Previous Accounts, He Said His Wife Was Also Due to Work in the South Tower
In his statement, Rannazzisi makes it clear that he was working for the company Merrill Lynch in a midtown office on 9/11. Merrill Lynch didn’t have an office in the south tower. His then-girlfriend, now wife, Tracy Rannazzisi, was also due to be in one of the towers that day, according to his previous accounts. In reality, she was working as a temp in the financial district of Manhattan, nearby. On his Marc Maron interview, Rannazzisi said that 9/11 had inspired him to quit his finance job and move to California to become an actor. Just two years later, he was noticed by Ashton Kutcher and was used as a player in the MTV show Punk’d. A former version of his Wikipedia page categorically states “He worked in the south tower of the World Trade Center, and was on the 54th floor during the September 11 attacks. His future wife Tracy worked on the 24th floor, but was in mid-commute at the time of the attacks. 9/11 inspired Rannazzisi to move to Los Angeles and pursue stand-up comedy.”
In an appearance on Pauly Shore’s Lol Flix, Tracy Rannazzisi didn’t contradict her husband’s claims about 9/11 (above).
4. He’s Married With 3 Kids
On his website, Rannazzisi says he’s a native of Smithtown, New York. He’s best known for his roles in The League and Pall Blart: Mall Cop. This bio makes no reference to 9/11. It does note that he lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three kids. In their extensive story on Rannazzisi’s fabrication, the New York Times notes that his website calls him a graduate of the State University of New York at purchase “with a noted reputation in the performing arts.” In reality, he graduated from SUNY Oneonta with a major in communications.
5. False 9/11 Accounts Are Nothing New, Unfortunately
False 9/11 accounts are nothing new. The most famous of which until this point was probably the case of Alicia Esteve Head, who Tania Head as she was more commonly known. She told the world that she escaped from the 78th floor of the south tower on 9/11. Even becoming the president of the World Trade Center Survivor’s Network. It later emerged that she had been in Barcelona, Spain, on the day of the attack.