Harvey Keitel - biography
Harvey Keitel (born May 13, 1939) is an American actor. He is widely known for the "tough-guy" characters he portrays, and for his roles in James Toback's The Pick-Up Artist, Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, Ridley Scott's The Duellists and Thelma and Louise, Jane Campion's The Piano, Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant, and James Mangold's Cop Land. Keitel also starred in Red Dragon as FBI agent Jack Crawford. His latest work is as Detective Lieutenant Gene Hunt on the American adaptation of Life on Mars.
Keitel (pronounced /kaɪˈtɛl/ kye-tel) was born in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, the son of Miriam and Harry Keitel, Jewish immigrants from Romania and Poland. 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 with his sister, Renee, and brother, Jerry. He attended Abraham Lincoln High School. At the age of 16, he decided to join the United States Marine Corps, a decision that took him to Lebanon. After his return to the United States, he was a court reporter and was able to support himself before beginning his acting career.
Keitel studied under both Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg and at the HB Studio, eventually landing roles in some off-Broadway productions. During this time, Keitel met struggling filmmaker Martin Scorsese and gained a part in Scorsese's student production, Who's That Knocking at My Door. Since then, Scorsese and Keitel have worked together on numerous projects. Keitel had the starring role in Scorsese's Mean Streets but this 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. Originally, Keitel was to have played the role of Captain Willard in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now; however, he was fired early in the production and replaced by Martin Sheen. After this, it was many years before he would be able to get anything other than minor roles. At the end of the 1970s, Keitel was mostly working in European films for directors such as Ridley Scott, usually in sinister character parts. Throughout the 1980s, Keitel continued to find plenty of work on both stage and screen, but was usually in the stereotypical role of a thug. Keitel starred in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs in 1992, where his performance as "Mr. White" relaunched his semi-slumping career. Ridley Scott cast Keitel as the sympathetic policeman in Thelma and Louise in 1991. That same year he landed a role in Bugsy, for which he obtained 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. Since then, Keitel has chosen his roles with care, seeking to change his image and show off a broader acting range. One of those roles was the title character in Bad Lieutenant, about a self-loathing, drug- addicted police lieutenant trying to redeem himself. He also appeared in the movie The Piano in 1993, and played an efficient clean-up expert Winston "The Wolf" Wolfe in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. In 1996 he landed a major role in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's film, From Dusk Till Dawn, and in 1997 he starred in the crime drama Cop Land, which also starred Sylvester Stallone, Ray Liotta, and Robert De Niro.
His later roles include the fatherly Satan in Little Nicky, a wise Navy man in U-571, diligent F.B.I. 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 scheduling 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), and Tony Bui (Three Seasons).
In 2002, at the Moscow International Film Festival, Keitel was honored with the Stanislavsky Award for the outstanding achievement in the career of acting and devotion to the principles of Stanislavsky's school.
He also appeared in the Steinlager Pure commercials in New Zealand in 2007. Unlike many American male actors who either never appear nude in film or only do so once, 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. 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.
In June 2009, he made a cameo appearance in the Jay-Z video for D.O.A (Death of Auto-tune), most certainly a nod to his Brooklyn origins.
Keitel was formerly in a long-term relationship with actress Lorraine Bracco, known for playing the psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Melfi in The Sopranos. 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 godfather of close friend Michael Madsen's son Max.
Keitel has worked with a wide list of reputable directors. Along his 40 year long career, Keitel has established a solid collaboration with some directors such as: Martin Scorsese (5), Paul Auster (3), Quentin Tarantino (3), James Toback (3), Jane Campion (2), Abel Ferrara (2), Brad Mirman (2), Manuel Pradal (2), Alan Rudolph (2), Ridley Scott (2), Jon Turteltaub (2), and 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, Luis Sepúlveda and Bertrand Tavernier; and for TV productions with Stephen Frears, Clint Eastwood, and Joel Schumacher.