Harvey Keitel

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Harvey Keitel
Harvey Keitel VF 2012 Shankbone.JPG
Keitel at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival
Born (1939-05-13) May 13, 1939 (age 75)
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
Occupation Actor, producer
Years active 1967–present
Spouse(s) Daphna Kastner (2001–present)
Partner(s) Lorraine Bracco (1982–1993)
  • Stella Keitel (b. 1985)
  • Hudson Karmazin Keitel (b. 2001)
  • Roman Keitel (b. 2004)

Harvey Keitel (/kˈtɛl/ ky-TEL; born May 13, 1939) is an American actor and producer. Some of his most notable starring roles were in Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, Ridley Scott's The Duellists and Thelma & Louise, Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Jane Campion's The Piano, Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant, James Mangold's Cop Land, FBI Special agent Sadusky in National Treasure and the latter's sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets, as well as playing the devil in Little Nicky. Along with actors Al Pacino and Ellen Burstyn, he is the current co-president of the Actors Studio, which claims itself to be considered "the nation's most prestigious acting school".[1]

Early life[edit]

Keitel was born in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, the son of Miriam (née Klein) and Harry Keitel, Jewish immigrants from Romania and Poland, respectively.[2] His parents owned and ran a luncheonette and his father also worked as a hat maker.

Keitel grew up in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn,[3] with his sister, Renee, and brother, Jerry. He attended Abraham Lincoln High School. At the age of sixteen, he decided to join the United States Marine Corps,[3] a decision that took him to Lebanon, during Operation Blue Bat. After his return to the United States, he was a court reporter for several years and was able to support himself before beginning his acting career.[3]


Harvey Keitel in November 2009

Keitel studied under both Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg and at the HB Studio, eventually landing roles in some Off-Broadway productions.[3] During this time, Keitel auditioned for filmmaker Martin Scorsese and gained a starring role as "J.R.", in Scorsese's first feature film, Who's That Knocking at My Door (1967).[3] Since then, Scorsese and Keitel have worked together on several projects.[3] Keitel had the starring role in Scorsese's Mean Streets, which also proved to be Robert De Niro's breakthrough film. He later appeared with De Niro in Taxi Driver, playing the role of Jodie Foster's pimp.[3]

Cast as Captain Willard in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, Keitel was involved with the first week of principal photography in the Philippines. Coppola was not happy with Keitel's take on Willard, stating that the actor "found it difficult to play him a passive onlooker".[4] After viewing the first week's footage, Coppola made the difficult decision to replace Keitel with a casting session favorite, Martin Sheen.

Keitel drifted into obscurity through most of the 1980s.[3] He continued to do work on both stage and screen, but usually in the stereotypical role of a thug. In 1987 he again worked with Scorsese as Judas in The Last Temptation of Christ. Ridley Scott cast Keitel as the sympathetic policeman in Thelma & Louise in 1991. That same year, he landed a role in Bugsy, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, then played another mobster, Deloris's gangster ex-boyfriend Vince LaRocca in Sister Act several months later. Keitel starred in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (which he co-produced) in 1992,[3] where his performance as "Mr. White" took his career to a different level. Since then, Keitel has chosen his roles with care, seeking to change his image and show a broader acting range.[3] One of those roles was the title character in Bad Lieutenant, about a self-loathing, drug- addicted police lieutenant trying to redeem himself.[3] He co-starred in the movie The Piano in 1993,[3] and played an efficient clean-up expert, Winston "The Wolf" Wolfe in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. In 1996 he had a major role in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's film, From Dusk Till Dawn. In 1997 he starred in the crime drama Cop Land, which also starred Sylvester Stallone, Ray Liotta, as well as Robert De Niro.

Keitel with singer Harry Belafonte in New York, April 2011

His later roles include the fatherly Satan in Little Nicky, a wise Navy man in U-571, diligent FBI Special agent Sadusky in National Treasure and the latter's sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets. In 1999, Keitel was replaced by Sydney Pollack on the set of Eyes Wide Shut, due to shooting conflicts. He has shown a willingness to help other start-up filmmakers by appearing in their first feature film. He did this not only for Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, but also Ridley Scott (The Duellists), Paul Schrader (Blue Collar), James Toback (Fingers), as well as Tony Bui (Three Seasons).

In 2002 at the 24th Moscow International Film Festival, Keitel was honored with the Stanislavsky Award for his outstanding achievement in the career of acting and devotion to the principles of Stanislavsky's school.[5]

He also appeared in the Steinlager Pure commercials in New Zealand in 2007. Unlike many American male actors, Keitel has appeared nude in several films, including full frontal nudity in Bad Lieutenant and The Piano.

In January 2008, Keitel played Jerry Springer in the New York City premiere of Jerry Springer: The Opera at Carnegie Hall.[3] In 2008, Keitel was cast in the role of Detective Gene Hunt in ABC's short-lived US cover version of the successful English time-travel police drama series Life on Mars.[6]

In June 2009, he made a cameo appearance in the Jay-Z video for "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)", a nod to his Brooklyn origins. In 2013, he appeared in a music video for "Pretty Hurts" by Beyoncé Knowles.[7]

In 2013 he starred in the independent film A Farewell to Fools.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Keitel with wife Daphna Kastner in 2010

Keitel was formerly in a long-term relationship with actress Lorraine Bracco. He married actress Daphna Kastner in 2001. Keitel is the father of three children: daughter Stella (born 1985) from his relationship with Bracco; son Hudson (born 2001) from his relationship with Lisa Karmazin; and son Roman (born 2004) from his marriage to Kastner. He is a godfather of close friend Michael Madsen's son Max.

Recurring directors[edit]

Keitel has worked with a wide list of reputable directors. During his 40-year career, Keitel has established a solid collaboration with some directors such as: Martin Scorsese (5), Paul Auster (3), Quentin Tarantino (3), James Toback (3), Wes Anderson (2), Jane Campion (2), Abel Ferrara (2), Brad Mirman (2), Manuel Pradal (2), Alan Rudolph (2), Ridley Scott (2), Jon Turteltaub (2), as well as Wayne Wang (2). Moreover, Keitel has worked for other acclaimed directors such as: Theodoros Angelopoulos, Dario Argento, Luc Besson, Fernando Colomo, Brian De Palma, Stanley Donen, Philip Kaufman, Spike Lee, Barry Levinson, Jack Nicholson, Robert Rodriguez, George A. Romero, Paul Schrader, Ettore Scola, Luis Sepúlveda, István Szabó and Bertrand Tavernier; and for TV productions with Stephen Frears, Clint Eastwood, as well as Joel Schumacher.


Year Film Role Notes
1967 Who's That Knocking at My Door J.R.
Reflections in a Golden Eye Soldier Uncredited
1970 Brewster McCloud Photographer Uncredited
1973 Mean Streets Charlie
1974 A Memory of Two Mondays (TV) Jerry
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore Ben
1975 That's the Way of the World Coleman Buckmaster
1976 Taxi Driver 'Sport' Matthew Nominated: National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor (2nd place)
Nominated: New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor (2nd place)
Buffalo Bill and the Indians Ed Goodman
Mother, Jugs & Speed Tony "Speed" Malatesta
1978 Blue Collar Jerry Bartowski
The Duellists Feraud
Fingers Jimmy Fingers
1979 Eagle's Wing Henry
Death Watch Roddy
1980 Bad Timing Inspector Netusil
Saturn 3 Benson Voice dubbed by Roy Dotrice
1982 That Night in Varennes Thomas Paine
The Border Cat
1983 Exposed Rivas
Copkiller Lt. Fred O'Connor
1984 Falling in Love Ed Lasky
Nemo Mr. Legend
1985 El caballero del dragon (The Knight of the Dragon) Clever Spanish film
1986 Blindside Penfield Gruber
Camorra (A Story of Streets, Women and Crime) Frankie
The Inquiry Pontius Pilate
Off Beat Mickey
Wise Guys Bobby DiLea
The Men's Club Solly Berliner
1987 The Pick-up Artist Alonzo Scolara
1988 Down Where The Buffalo Go Carl BBC TV Movie
The Last Temptation of Christ Judas Iscariot Nominated: Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor
Grandi cacciatori Thomas
Dear Gorbachev Nikolaj Bucharin
1989 The January Man Police Commissioner Frank Starkey
Imagining America
1990 The Two Jakes Julius 'Jake' Berman
Two Evil Eyes Roderick Usher Segment "The Black Cat"
1991 Thelma & Louise Hal Won: National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
Mortal Thoughts Det. John Woods Won: National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
Bugsy Mickey Cohen Won: Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Won: National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated: Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated: Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
1992 Bad Lieutenant The Lieutenant Won: Fantasporto's International Fantasy Film Award for Best Actor
Won: Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
Nominated: New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor (2nd place)
Reservoir Dogs Mr. White – Larry Dimmick Also co-producer
Won: Sant Jordi Award for Best Foreign Actor
Sister Act Vince LaRocca
1993 Rising Sun Lt. Tom Graham
Dangerous Game Eddie Israel Won: Venice Film Festival - Golden Ciak for Best Actor
Point of No Return Victor the Cleaner
The Piano George Baines Won: Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Young Americans John Harris
1994 Imaginary Crimes Ray Weiler
Pulp Fiction Winston 'The Wolf' Wolfe
Monkey Trouble Azro
1995 Get Shorty Himself Uncredited
Smoke Augustus 'Auggie' Wren Won: Berlin International Film Festival's Special Jury Prize (shared with Wayne Wang)
Won: David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actor
Ulysses' Gaze A
Blue in the Face Auggie Wren Also executive producer
Clockers Det. Rocco Klein
1996 From Dusk till Dawn Jacob Fuller Nominated: Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
Head Above Water George
1997 FairyTale: A True Story Harry Houdini
Cop Land Ray Donlan
City of Industry Roy Egan
1998 Finding Graceland Elvis
Gunslinger's Revenge (Il mio West) Johnny Lowen
Shadrach Vernon
Lulu on the Bridge Izzy Maurer
1999 Three Seasons James Hager Also executive producer
Holy Smoke! PJ Waters
Presence of Mind The Master
2000 Prince of Central Park The Guardian
U-571 CPO Henry Klough Nominated: Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Supporting Actor - Action
Little Nicky Satan
2001 Nailed Tony Romano
The Grey Zone SS-Oberscharführer Eric Muhsfeldt Also executive producer
Taking Sides Major Steve Arnold
Viper Leone
2002 Red Dragon Jack Crawford
Ginostra Matt Benson
2003 Crime Spree Frankie Zammeti
Dreaming of Julia Che Also producer
The Galindez File Edward Robards
2004 National Treasure Agent Peter Sadusky
The Bridge of San Luis Rey Uncle Pio
Puerto Vallarta Squeeze Walter McGrane
2005 Be Cool Nick Carr
A Crime Roger Culkin
Shadows in the Sun Weldon Parish
2006 The Path to 9/11 John O'Neill
Arthur and the Minimoys Miro Voice
The Stone Merchant The Merchant Ludovico Vicedomini
2007 One Last Dance Terrtano
My Sexiest Year Zowie
National Treasure: Book of Secrets Agent Peter Sadusky
2008 The Ministers Detective Joseph Bruno
2008-2009 Life on Mars (TV) Lieutenant Gene Hunt Nominated: Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
2009 Inglourious Basterds Allied Commanding Officer Voice/Uncredited
Wrong Turn at Tahoe Nino
2010 Little Fockers Randy Weir
A Beginner's Guide to Endings Duke White
The Last Godfather Don Carini
2012 Moonrise Kingdom Commander Pierce
Gandhi of the Month Edward Baker Previously titled Against Itself'
2013 The Power Inside O’Mansky
2014 The Grand Budapest Hotel Ludvig
The Congress Al
God Only Knows[9] Salvatore Vitaglia Post-production
Two Men in Town


  1. ^ Lipton, James (October 18, 2007). Inside Inside. Dutton. p. 14. ISBN 9780525950356. 
  2. ^ Schoemer, Karen (November 7, 1993). "Harvey Keitel Tries A Little Tenderness". The New York Times. Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 1998
  4. ^ Cowie 1990, p. 122.
  5. ^ "24th Moscow International Film Festival (2002)". MIFF. Retrieved March 30, 2013. 
  6. ^ Mitovich, Matt (July 24, 2008). "Scoop! Keitel Lands on Mars as Homicide Boss". TV Guide. Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  7. ^ Dolan, Jon (December 13, 2013). "'Beyonce' Breakdown: The Ultimate Guide to Bey's Surprise New Album". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 14, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Monterey Media Acquires Three Films, Including Works Starring Gerard Depardieu and Harvey Keitel". indiewire.com. October 17, 2013. Retrieved November 6, 2013. 
  9. ^ Mottern, James (November 29, 2012). "Slate for "God Only Knows"". jamesmottern.com. Retrieved March 7, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Paul Newman
President of the Actors Studio
With: Al Pacino
and Ellen Burstyn
Succeeded by