‘Boardwalk Empire’: Steve Buscemi Reveals Nucky’s Motives for Killing Jimmy Darmody

In the five amazing seasons of Boardwalk Empire, there is one death that fans still can’t come to terms with, and that’s the killing of Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) by Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi). Jimmy starts making moves against Nucky, which leads to his death at the hands of Nucky himself. It’s a betrayal that Nucky can’t let go and he takes matters into his own hands.

How the death of Jimmy Darmody goes down

Steve Buscemi
Steve Buscemi | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Nucky meets Jimmy out in the rain in the middle of the night. It’s a very dramatic scene and one that was certainly a long time coming. Jimmy tells Nucky he isn’t armed. “This is the only way it could have ended isn’t it?” Jimmy says.

“This is your choice James,” Nucky insists.

“I died in a trench, years back,” Jimmy says, referring to his time fighting in WWI. “I thought you knew that. So who’s going to do it?”

“I am,” Nucky tells him. He pulls out a pistol and aims it at Jimmy.

Jimmy tells him he was sick for days the first time he killed someone. “You had everything going. Your whole life,” Nucky says. He pulls the trigger, but not before Jimmy tells him it won’t be easy when he runs out of booze and has to face the reality of the situation.

“You don’t know me James. You never did. I am not seeking forgiveness,” Nucky says as he pulls the trigger again.

Steve Buscemi reveals Nucky’s motives in killing Jimmy

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Deadline spoke with Buscemi via Awardsline back in 2012 and he was asked if he saw the death of Jimmy coming. Apparently “it wasn’t obvious” to him. Once he spoke with the creator though, he was recalled back to the pilot and remembered something Nucky said.

“No, it wasn’t obvious to me or anybody,” Buscemi said. “When I talked to Terry (Winter) about why Nucky was taking this course of action, he brought me back to the pilot. Nucky said ‘You would be very unwise to underestimate me James.’ He gave Jimmy a pass then. Nucky said ‘I could have you killed.’ And so Jimmy clearly crossed a big line in season 2 as far as Nucky is concerned, so in his mind there was no going back.”

Buscemi was surprised Nucky did the deed himself

The really surprising thing about Jimmy’s death for Buscemi was the fact that Nucky did it himself instead of having one of his cronies do it for him. Jimmy is one of the people who doesn’t make it out alive in the story of prohibition and it’s a sad ending for him.

“What was more surprising to me was that Nucky chose to do it himself,” Buscemi continued. “He could have had someone else do it. I talked to (Boardwalk director and executive producer) Tim Van Patten about this. He directed the final episode. Tim said over the course of prohibition and gangster history, there’s the names of guys we don’t know because they didn’t make it. And that’s Jimmy’s story.”

It’s sad to think of how close Nucky and Jimmy once were, but good things don’t seem to last, especially in a series like Boardwalk Empire.