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Harvey Keitel

Harvey Keitel

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: May 13, 1939 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA Profession: actor, producer, still photographer, production assistant, court stenographer, marine, shoe salesman

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

To pigeonhole Harvey Keitel as a master of edgy degenerates and killers would have dismissed the actor's many successes with surly husbands, benign cops and intrepid detectives. His prolific but slow-to-ignite career began with memorably unlikable supporting roles in Martin Scorsese character studies "Taxi Driver" (1976) and "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" (1974), though he turned to European films shortly thereafter when he failed to find a suitable place in mainstream films. An Academy-Award nominated supporting role in "Bugsy" (1991) heralded a new beginning for Keitel on American soil, and he became a favorite on the indie film scene of the 1990s through his association with Quentin Tarantino cult classics "Reservoir Dogs" (1992) and "Pulp Fiction" (1994). Keitel had several successes when he chose to tap his inner soft side, like in Jane Campion's "The Piano" (1993), but by far, he was the go-to guy for potentially explosive everymen, grizzled police force veterans and G-men in both subtle indies and gun-blazing big budget adventures alike.Born May 13, 1939, Keitel was raised in Brooklyn, NY where his Polish and Romanian immigrant parents owned and operated a luncheonette. At 16, Keitel joined...

To pigeonhole Harvey Keitel as a master of edgy degenerates and killers would have dismissed the actor's many successes with surly husbands, benign cops and intrepid detectives. His prolific but slow-to-ignite career began with memorably unlikable supporting roles in Martin Scorsese character studies "Taxi Driver" (1976) and "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" (1974), though he turned to European films shortly thereafter when he failed to find a suitable place in mainstream films. An Academy-Award nominated supporting role in "Bugsy" (1991) heralded a new beginning for Keitel on American soil, and he became a favorite on the indie film scene of the 1990s through his association with Quentin Tarantino cult classics "Reservoir Dogs" (1992) and "Pulp Fiction" (1994). Keitel had several successes when he chose to tap his inner soft side, like in Jane Campion's "The Piano" (1993), but by far, he was the go-to guy for potentially explosive everymen, grizzled police force veterans and G-men in both subtle indies and gun-blazing big budget adventures alike.

Born May 13, 1939, Keitel was raised in Brooklyn, NY where his Polish and Romanian immigrant parents owned and operated a luncheonette. At 16, Keitel joined the Marines and served overseas in the Middle East. When he returned home, he began to pursue an interest in acting, training at the famed Actors Studio before eventually landing stage roles in summer stock, repertory, and the fringes of off-off Broadway and community theater. He made his off Broadway debut in Sam Shepard's "Up to Thursday" in 1965 and two years later began his association with director Martin Scorsese when he answered a newspaper ad placed by the then-NYU student director. Scorsese cast him in "Who's That Knocking at My Door?" (1967), which evolved from a student short to Scorsese's well-received feature debut. Keitel went on to make a strong impression with a breakout role as the director's alter ego in "Mean Streets" (1973), though his more introspective character suffered by proximity to Robert De Niro's explosive, out-of-control Johnny Boy.

Playing the first of many violent, abusive parts, Keitel reportedly terrified co-star Ellen Burstyn (who won an Oscar for her performance) in Scorsese's "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" (1974). He collaborated with the director again in an unforgettable performance as the pimp (and lover) of teenage runaway prostitute Jodie Foster in "Taxi Driver" (1976); the sheer brilliance of his portrayal lost amidst the kudos for De Niro's tour de force turn as Travis Bickle. Keitel's career promise continued to rise when he landed a leading role in "Apocalypse Now" (1979), but after a falling out with director Francis Ford Coppola, he was replaced by Martin Sheen. Instead of starring in one of the most publicized films of its day, he acted in Ridley Scott's commercially unsuccessful adaptation of Joseph Conrad's "The Duellists" (1977). Keitel was outstanding as a street-smart, aspiring concert pianist who collects debts for his domineering father in James Toback's "Fingers" (1978), zooming in on women and danger with a self-destructive fervor. He also delivered a strong performance as an auto worker up against a corrupt union in Paul Schrader's underrated "Blue Collar" (1978), but he should have avoided the dubious British oater "Eagle's Wing" (1978), directed by Anthony Harvey.

During the 1980s Keitel's visibility slipped, and he appeared in character roles for international productions like Bertrand Tavernier's sci-fi offering "Deathwatch" (1980), Tony Richardson's thriller "The Border" (1982), and several titles from Lina Wertmuller including "Vicoli e Deliitti" (1985). Keitel resurfaced in mainstream American cinema in Brian De Palma's unsuccessful stab at a mob comedy, "Wise Guys" (1986), and re-teamed with Toback for a small role in the romantic comedy "The Pick-Up Artist" (1987). But it was Keitel's portrait of a tortured, ambivalent Judas Iscariot in Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ" (1988) that brought the actor back into the general public consciousness, though the controversial but critically well-received film was not popular at the box office. Keitel's co-starring role as a police commissioner brother of Kevin Kline in "The January Man" (1989) was a dud, and the "Chinatown" (1975) sequel "The Two Jakes" (1990) was also an unfortunate flop that threatened to start Keitel's unhappy cycle all over again. The actor rebounded with a meaty role as a sympathetic detective tracking a pair of unwitting outlaws (Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis) in the hit, "Thelma & Louise" (1991).

The noir biopic "Bugsy" (1991) reinstated Keitel on the industry's A-list, with a forcefully-drawn performance as Jewish mobster Mickey Cohen that earned him his first Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor. He went on to become a significant figure in 1990s independent filmmaking after proving a godsend to novice writer-director Quentin Tarantino, agreeing to star in and co-produce "Reservoir Dogs" (1992). His involvement enabled the project's budget to soar from $35,000 to $400,000 and attract other major talents that helped make it into an enduring cult classic. Keitel's no-holds-barred performance as the corrupt, substance-abusing antihero of Abel Ferrara's "Bad Lieutenant" (1992) also brought critical kudos and helped boost the reputation of that formerly "B-plus" indie filmmaker. Keitel went on to credit Jane Campion, writer-director of "The Piano" (1993), for helping him alter his tough-guy persona when she cast him in the surprisingly romantic role of Holly Hunter's lover in that film, although his more typical, cool machismo was back on display in Tarantino's galvanizing "Pulp Fiction" (1994).

Keitel was perhaps never better than in his subtle, low-key performance as the proprietor of a Brooklyn cigar shop in Wayne Wang's popular art house movie "Smoke" (1995) and its companion piece, "Blue in the Face" (1995). Keitel's stock held strong with another detective role in Spike Lee's critically acclaimed drama "Clockers" (1995), and a strong supporting performance as the patriarch of a vacationing family who find themselves battling vampires in Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's "From Dusk Till Dawn" (1996). He returned to Europe to play Harry Houdini in the fanciful British period piece "Fairy Tale (1996) and went back to grittier territory in James Mangold's "Cop Land" (1997), an above average police drama anchored by an excellent ensemble cast including Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro. Non-studio fare remained closest to Keitel's heart, and his involvement as executive producer and lead role as an ex-Marine in search of redemption in Tony Bui's "Three Seasons" (1999) helped that film win both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance. He also reteamed that year with Campion on "Holy Smoke" as a cult exit counselor who goes astray while deprogramming Kate Winslet.

Keitel was part of the all-star ensemble of the WWII submarine tale "U-571" (2000) before sending up his dark image to play Satan in the Adam Sandler comedic misfire, "Little Nicky" (2000). In 2001, the Goatsingers, a New York-based production company formed by Keitel and Peggy Gormley, produced "The Grey Zone," Tim Blake Nelson's holocaust drama in which Keitel also co-starred alongside David Arquette and Steve Buscemi. Keitel made a return to mainstream commercial fare with "Red Dragon," third in the series of films featuring Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Keitel served as producer on Juan Gerard's memoir of his Cuban childhood "Dreaming of Julia" (2003) and had a supporting role opposite Nicolas Cage in the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced action blockbuster "National Treasure" (2004), followed by a charismatic role as a villainous music manager in "Be Cool" (2005), the entertaining sequel to "Get Shorty" (1995). In 2006, Keitel starred as an FBI special agent in the highly controversial docudrama miniseries "The Path to 9/11." The following year, he reprised another of his FBI characters in the blockbuster actioner, "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" (2007). In a surprising shift to series television, Keitel was cast in the police drama "Life on Mars" (ABC, 2008- ), where he played a New York police lieutenant, circa the fashion-challenged early 1970s, alongside Michael Imperioli, Gretchen Mol and Lisa Bonet.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 In the Future (2015)
2.
 Two Men In Town (2014)
3.
 God Only Knows (2014)
6.
 Fatal Honeymoon (2012)
7.
 Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
9.
10.
 Little Fockers (2010)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Grew-up in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, NY
1956:
Joined the U.S. Marine Corps at age 16 and served in Lebanon; received high school equivalency diploma while a Marine
:
Worked as a shoe salesman
:
Worked as a court stenographer at Manhattan Criminal Court for eight years
:
Joined the Actors Studio
1965:
Made off-Broadway debut in Sam Shepard's "Up To Thursday" at the Cherry Lane Theater
:
Worked for over ten years in summer stock, repertory, off-off-Broadway, coffee houses, and community theater
1965:
Answered a newspaper advertisement placed by Martin Scorsese, then an NYU student director, seeking actors for his first film
1967:
Film debut, "Who's That Knocking at My Door?"; first collaboration with Scorsese
1970:
Worked as a production assistant and provided stills for the little-seen documentary "Street Scenes 70"; Scorcese was production supervisor and post-production director
1973:
Landed breakthrough role in Scorsese's first major feature "Mean Streets"; first collaboration with Robert De Niro
1974:
Played the abusive boyfriend of Ellen Burstyn's Alice in "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore"; again collaborated with Scorsese
1974:
First notable TV appearance, "A Memory of Two Mondays" for PBS' "Great Performances"
1974:
Played Bugsy Siegel to Dyan Cannon's Virginia Hill in the NBC biopic "The Virginia Hill Story"
1975:
Made Broadway debut as Happy in Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman"; starred George C. Scott as Willy Loman
1976:
Cast in "Apocalypse Now"; had a falling out with Francis Ford Coppola; fired on location in the Philippines and replaced by Martin Sheen
1976:
Portrayed Jodie Foster's lover-pimp in Scorsese's "Taxi Driver"; scripted by Paul Schrader; second feature with De Niro
1976:
Acted in two screenplays written by Alan Rudolph ¿ "Welcome to L.A.," directed by Rudolph and "Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson," directed by Robert Altman
1977:
First collaboration with filmmaker James Toback as the star of "Fingers"
1977:
Headlined the cast of Ridley Scott's period adaptation of Joseph Conrad's novel "The Duellists"
1978:
Starred with Richard Pryor and Yaphet Kotto as auto workers in Schrader's directorial debut "Blue Collar"
1980:
His "Brooklyn-real" voice dubbed over in the sci-fi flop "Saturn 3"
1983:
Reteamed with Toback in "Exposed"
1984:
Co-starred with William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, and Ron Silver in the Broadway play "Hurlyburly"
1985:
Missed about a quarter of his performances in the off-Broadway production of Sam Shepherd's "A Lie of the Mind"
1986:
Appeared with then companion Lorraine Bracco in Rabe's "Goose and Tom-Tom"
1987:
Third film with Toback, "The Pick-Up Artist"
1988:
Played Judas Iscariot in Scorsese's "Last Temptation of Christ"; scripted by Schrader
1990:
Cast opposite Jack Nicholson (who also directed) as the titular "The Two Jakes," a loose sequel to "Chinatown"
1991:
Re-teamed with Rudolph to appear in the thriller "Mortal Thoughts"
1991:
Reunited with Ridley Scott to play an FBI agent in "Thelma & Louise"
1991:
Played mobster Mickey Cohen in "Bugsy"; scripted by Toback; earned Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor
1992:
First producing credit as the co-producer of "Reservoir Dogs"; directed by Quentin Tarantino; also starred
1992:
Essayed the title role of Abel Ferrara's "Bad Lieutenant"
1993:
Re-teamed with Ferrara for "Dangerous Game," co-starring Madonna
1993:
Cast as the "gone-native" man who eventually romances a mute Scottish woman in "The Piano"; first film with writer-director Jane Campion
1994:
Served as UNICEF spokesperson on behalf of the youngest victims in the war-torn land formerly known as Yugoslavia
1994:
Portrayed the Wolf in Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction"
1995:
Co-starred with William Hurt as a cigar store manager in "Smoke," directed by Wayne Wang and scripted by Paul Auster; reprised role in the companion film "Blue in the Face"; served as executive producer on the latter
1996:
Cast as a solemn preacher held hostage by two derranged criminals (Tarantino and George Clooney) in the Tarantino-scripted "From Dusk Till Dawn"; directed by Robert Rodriguez
1997:
Fourth film with De Niro, James Mangold's "Cop Land"
1997:
Teamed with Cameron Diaz in the misfire "Head Above Water"; premiered on HBO before receiving limited theatrical release
1998:
Starred in Auster's solo directing effort "Lulu on the Bridge"
1998:
Portrayed Elvis (who thinks he really is "The King") in "Finding Graceland"
1999:
Played a former GI who returns to Vietnam seeking the daughter he left behind in Tony Bui's "Three Seasons"; film selected as Vietnam's entry for the 1999 Best Foreign-Language Academy Award
1999:
Reteamed with Campion for "Holy Smoke!" as an aging cult deprogrammer who more than meets his match in Kate Winslet
2000:
Acted in the all-star ensemble of Jonathan Mostow's WWII submarine drama "U-571"
2002:
Portrayed a Nazi in "The Grey Zone," directed by Tim Blake Nelson; also served as an executive producer
2002:
Played FBI Agent Jack Crawford in "Red Dragon," a prequel to "Silence of the Lambs"
2003:
Starred as as the mysterious and secretive grandfather "Che" in Juan Gerard's "Dreaming of Julia"
2004:
Starred opposite Nicolas Cage in Jon Turteltaub's "National Treasure"
2007:
Co-starred in Justin Theroux's directorial debut "Dedication," a romantic comedy that premiered at Sundance
2007:
Re-teamed with Nicolas Cage for "National Treasure: Book of Secrets"
2008:
Made debut as TV series regular on ABC's "Life on Mars," playing Det. Gene Hunt
2010:
Reunited with De Niro in the comedy "Little Fockers"
2012:
Cast in Wes Anderson's romantic adventure "Moonrise Kingdom"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Abraham Lincoln High School: Brooklyn , New York -
Alexander Hamilton Vocational School: Brooklyn , New York -
Actors Studio: New York , New York -

Notes

About working with director Martin Scorsese: "[It was like] walking into a room . . . and looking into a woman's eyes. She looks back, and for whatever reasons, you both know it's something special."---Keitel quoted in Premiere, September 1990.

"I can think of no more important endeavor than reading. To be a little dramatic, it's saved my life in many ways. I've been pursuing it now for a long time. Heavily, I'd say, for the past ten years. I began very late. When I say I began in the Marine Corps, I mean I opened a book then. I had a desire to understand this chaos I was experiencing in my body. And books were a guide. If I had only one wish for my children, it would be that they become readers."---Harvey Keitel to Nick Tosches in Esquire, September 1993.

"You know the saying, 'Once a marine, always a marine?' I am still a marine today. We shared this brotherhood of the spirit that to this day I feel, as do all former marines. It lifted me, it elevated me, it spirited me, it challenged me to my limits, and my limits were extended. That helped me sustain a great deal of the struggle I encountered on my road to becoming an actor. I heard on the news that a large percentage of the members of Congress have never had military experience. That's mind-boggling to me. We cannot send other young men out to fight wars while we enjoy the fruits of democracy that we have never stood up for. That is not right. I am personally against the volunteer army. I think every young man should serve. I don't understand how we can allow our lower-middle class and underclass to fight our wars while the privileged never have to serve. That's a disgrace."---Keitel quoted in Interview, May 1999.

"If politics is the business of the city, theatre is its soul. Theatre is a religion and, as such, could well be a thing to be worshipped."---Keitel to Suzie Mackenzie in The Guardian, November 13, 1999.

On his first meeting with Robert De Niro: "I was going to a session at the Actors Studio, and there was a friend of mine and her boyfriend standing outside with Robert. And one of them said, 'Robert, this is Harvey. Harvey this is Robert.' We looked at each other and started to smile. We just kept laughing and shaking our heads in acknowledgment of something; I guess we found out later what that was."---Keitel to Preimere, March 2005.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Lorraine Bracco. Actor, model. Met at a Paris Cafe in 1983; moved in together c. 1984; separated in 1991; she later married actor Edward James Olmos on January 28, 1994.
companion:
Heather Bracken. No longer together.
companion:
Toni Welsh. No longer together.
companion:
Embeth Davidtz. Actor. No longer together.
companion:
Lisa Karmazin. Potter. Identified as the mother of Keitel's son born in October 2001.
wife:
Daphna Kastner. Filmmaker. Born c. 1961 in Israel; married on October 7, 2001 in Jerusalem, Israel.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

daughter:
Stella Keitel. Born c. 1986; mother, Lorraine Bracco; Keitel and Bracco were involved in a custody battle from the time they separated c. 1991; in 1999, Bracco was awarded sole custody and Keitel was awarded visitation rights.
son:
Hudson Karmazin. Born in October 2001; mother, Lisa Karmazin.
son:
Roman Keitel. Born August 17, 2004; mother, Daphna Kastner.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Harvey Keitel: The Art of Darkness"

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