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Harvey Keitel (born May 13, 1939) is an American actor whose latest work is that of Detective Lieutenant Gene Hunt on ABC's crime drama Life on Mars. He is widely known for the "tough-guy" characters he portrays and for his memorable roles from 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.

Early life

Keitel was born in the New York Citymarker borough of Brooklynmarker, 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 Beachmarker section of Brooklyn with his sister, Renee, and brother, Jerry. He attended Abraham Lincoln High School marker. At the age of 16, he decided to join the United States Marine Corps, a decision that took him to Lebanonmarker. 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. This role reached its zenith when Keitel starred in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs in 1992, where his performance as "Mr. White" relaunched his semi-slumping career. Ridley Scott also helped Keitel by casting him 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. His decision to co-star in Jane Campion's The Piano marks the approximate beginning of this phase of Keitel's career. He 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. Later roles include the fatherly Satan in Little Nicky, a wise Navy man in U-571, and diligent F.B.I.marker agent Sadusky in National Treasure. 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 Hallmarker. It was announced in July 2008 that Keitel had been cast in the role of Detective Gene Hunt in ABC's new 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.

Personal life

Keitel was formerly in a long-term relationship to 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 2003) from his marriage to Kastner. He is godfather of close friend Michael Madsen's son Max.

Keitel served as King Neptune of the Coney Islandmarker Mermaid Parade on June 20, 2009.

Recurring directors

Keitel has worked with a wide list of reputed 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 Sep├║lveda and Bertrand Tavernier; and for TV productions with Stephen Frears, Clint Eastwood and Joel Schumacher.


Year Film Role Notes
1967 Who's That Knocking at My Door J.R.
Reflections in a Golden Eye Soldier 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
Mother, Jugs & Speed Tony Malatesta
1978 Blue Collar Jerry Bartowski
The Duellists Feraud
Fingers Jimmy Fingers
1980 Bad Timing Inspector Netusil
Saturn 3 Benson
Deathwatch Roddy
1981 Copkiller Lt. Fred O'Connor
1982 That Night in Varennes Thomas Paine
The Border Cat
1983 Exposed Rivas
Corrupt Lt. Fred O'Connor
1984 Falling in Love Ed Lasky
1985 El caballero del dragon (Dragon's knight) Clever Spanish film
1986 Blindside Penfield Gruber
Wise Guys Bobby DiLea
1987 The Pick-up Artist Alonzo Scolara
1988 Down Where The Buffalo Go Carl BBC TV Movie
The Last Temptation of Christ Judas Iscariot
1989 The January Man Police Commissioner Frank Starkey
1990 The Two Jakes Julius 'Jake' Berman
1991 Thelma and Louise Hal
Mortal Thoughts Det. John Woods
Bugsy Mickey Cohen Nominated: Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor

Nominated: Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
1992 Bad Lieutenant The Lieutenant Won: Independent Spirit Award for Best Actor
Reservoir Dogs Mr. White - Larry Dimmick Also co-producer
Sister Act Vince LaRocca
1993 Rising Sun Lt. Tom Graham
Dangerous Game Eddie Israel
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
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 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
Little Nicky Satan
2001 The Grey Zone SSmarker-Oberscharf├╝hrer Eric Muhsfeldt Also executive producer
Taking Sides Major Steve Arnold
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 Sadusky
The Bridge of San Luis Rey Uncle Pio
Puerto Vallarta Squeeze Walter McGrane
2005 Be Cool Nick Carr
A Crime Roger Culkin
The Shadow Dancer 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 Sadusky
2008 The Ministers
2009 Inglourious Basterds Allied Commanding Officer Voice/Uncredited
2010 Little Fockers

Further reading


  1. :: :: People :: Harvey Keitel on the edge (xhtml)
  2. Harvey Keitel Biography (1939-)

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