“Everyone wants to learn something; maybe not everyone makes the effort, because they get discouraged. I certainly was like that as a teenager in Brooklyn, always trying to hide my ignorance. But you have to find the strength to acknowledge that ignorance within yourself, otherwise you are going to remain stagnant. I learnt a valuable lesson with Ridley Scott. My agent kept insisting that I go watch the show-reel of this commercial director and I kept turning him down, thinking there was no way that I was even going to consider working with a commercial director. In the end I saw his reel and I was blown away by how great it was.” Harvey Keitel
Most popular for his over-sensitive, forceful and occasionally intimidating psychotic characters, Harvey Keitel has also had his share of gentle cop roles, abrupt husbands, heroic detectives and tormented regular guys in a luxuriant, but slow--to-catch on-fire career. The Academy Award-nominated actor first came to prominence as Charlie Cappa in Marin Scorsese’s Mean Streets (1973) and later was brought back into the eye of the wide-ranging public with his role of Judas Iscariot in another Scorsese’s film, The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). However, it was Keitel’s Oscar-nominating portrayal of Jewish thug Mickey Cohen in the Barry Levinson-helmed Bugsy (1991) that garnered the actor real international attention. Since then, he has had memorable roles in such films as Riddle Scott’s Thelma & Louise (1991, earned a National Society of Film Critics Award), Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992, picked up a Sant Jordi Award), Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant (1992, won an Independent Spirit Award and a Fantasporto Award), Jane Campion’s The Piano (1993, nabbed an Australian Film Institute Award), Pulp Fiction (1994), Smoke (1995, netted a David di Donatello Award and a Berlin International Film Festival Award), Cop Land (1997), Red Dragon (2002) and National Treasure (2004). Keitel’s more recent and upcoming films include Be Cool (2005), Arthur and the Invisibles (2006), My Sexiest Year (2007, with Frankie Muniz), The Ministers (2007), The Dust of Time (2007) and the installment National Treasure: The Book of Secrets (2007).
The recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the 2005 Istanbul International Film Festival, Keitel founded and operates his own film production company called The Goatsingers, which is located in New York. The company has produced such independent movies as Henry and the Second Gunman, It’s Me the Hero, The Grey Zone and Dreaming of Julia. Keitel also acted in some of those productions.
Off camera, Keitel was married to actress Lorraine Bracco before she tied the knot with actor Edward James Olmos in 1994, and is now the husband of screen beauty Daphna Kastner. His love life has also been linked to several other women, including Toni Welsh, Heather Bracken, Embeth Davidtz and Lisa Karmazin. Keitel has three children, daughter Stella (born 1954, mother Lorraine Bracco) and sons Hudson Karmazin (born 2001, mother Lisa Karmazin) and Roman Keitel (born 2004, mother Daphna Kastner).
Childhood and Family:
Harvey Keitel was born on May 13, 1939, in Brooklyn, New York, to Harry Keitel and Miriam Klein, Jewish immigrants from Romania and Poland. Along with his siblings Renee and Jerry, he was raised in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, where he attended Abraham Lincoln High School and Alexander Hamilton Vocational School. At age 16, Harvey joined the United States Marine Corps, a choice that took him to Lebanon. He worked as a court reporter after returning to America. He later switched to acting and studied under Frank Corsaro, Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg at New York’s famed Actors Studio.
Meeting at a Paris Café in 1983, Harvey and actress Lorraine Bracco (born on October 2, 1954) moved in together a year later and got married. They had a daughter named Stella Keitel in 1986 before finally divorcing in 1993. Harvey remarried on October 7, 2001, to Israeli-born actress Daphna Kastner (born in 1961), whom he met at the Toronto film festival three week before. The couple’s son, Roman Keitel, was born on August 17, 2004. Harvey also has one more son, Hudson Karmazin (born on October 2001), from a previous relationship with Lisa Karmazin.
A former Marine, Harvey Keitel trained at the Actors Studio and eventually landed roles in several off-Broadway productions, making his debut in Sam Shepard’s “Up To Thursday” at the Cherry Lane Theater in 1965. During this period, he met another struggling filmmaker, Martin Scorsese, who in 1967 cast Keitel in a part in Who’s That Knocking at My Door. Both Scorsese and Keitel have collaborated in a number of projects since then. In 1973, Keitel got his breakout role as Charlie Cappa in Scorsese’s Mean Streets, opposite Robert De Niro.
The following year saw Keitel make his TV-movie debut in A Memory of Two Mondays, where he memorably played the supporting role of Jerry, and portrayed Bugsy Siegel to Dyan Cannon’s Virginia Hill in the NBC biopic "The Virginia Hill Story,” helmed by Joel Schumacher. He then played the insulting boyfriend of the title character (played by Ellen Burstyn) in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974, again directed by Scorsese), made his Broadway debut as Happy in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” (1975), which starred George C Scott as Willy Loman, and appeared in a couple of screenplays penned by Alan Rudolph: Welcome to L.A. and Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson (both 1976). The same year, he reunited with Robert De Niro for Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, where he portrayed Jodie Foster’s lover-pimp.
Keitel starred with Keith Carradine and Albert Finney in Ridley Scott’s period adaptation of Joseph Conrad, The Duellists (1977), gave a powerful performance in Paul Schrader’s directorial debut Blue Collar (1978) and worked with filmmaker James Toback for the first time in the director’s movie directing debut Fingers (1978), in which he brilliantly starred as the street-smart, wannabe concert pianist Jimmy Fingers. The actor made a wrong choice by taking on a supporting role in Eagle’s Wing (1979), which marked the beginning of his European phase. During that period, Keitel found himself teamed up with international filmmakers like Bertrand Tavernier in Deathwatch (1980), Tony Richardson in The Border (1982) and Ettore Scola in That Night in Varennes (1982).
The actor rejoined James Toback for 1983’s Exposed and 1987’s The Pick-Up Artist, and costarred opposite Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo in Brian De Palma’s failed attempt at black comedy, Wise Guys (1986). It was Keitel’s performance as a tormented Judas Iscariot in Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) that put the actor back in the public’s eye. Despite performances in the flops The January Man (1989), The Two Jakes (1990, with Jack Nicholson) and Two Evil Eyes (1990), Keitel further proved he was back on track when he took home a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his role as Jewish hoodlum Mickey Cohen in Barry Levinson’s Bugsy (1991) and a National Society of Film Critics award for his fine scene-stealing performance as FBI agent Hal Slocumb in Thelma & Louise (1991), directed by Riddle Scott. He scored another hit that same year with Alan Rudolph’s thriller Mortal Thoughts. Frequently cast an the stereotypical role of a gangster, Keitel achieved fame as the star of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992), in which his performance as “Mr. White” re-established his semi-slumping career. The role also brought the actor a Sant Jordi for Best Foreign Actor. His next role, the dishonest, substance-abusing anti-hero in Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant (1992) won him an Independent Spirit and a Fantasporto for Best Actor and helped increase his reputation as a major figure in independent filmmaking.
The next year, Keitel had a victory when he was cast as the love interest of Holly Hunter in writer-director Jane Campion’s The Piano, where his astonishingly romantic rendering brought the actor an Australian Film Institute for Best Actor in a Lead Role. He followed that up with notable roles in such films as Ferara’s Dangerous Game (1993), Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994), Wayne Wang’s well-liked art house movie Smoke (1995), in which he won a David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actor and a Berlin International Film Festival, the comedy Blue in the Face (1995), Spike Lee’s Clockers (1995), Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) and James Mangold’s Cop Land (1997). He also portrayed Elvis in Finding Graceland (1998), starred in Auster’s solo directing effort Lulu on the Bridge (1998), executive produced and starred in the Sundance-premiered Three Seasons (1999) as well as reunited with Jane Campion on Holy Smoke (1999).
After performances in the all-star ensemble of the WWII submarine tale U-571 (2000), Adam Sandler’s comedy Little Nicky (2000) and Tim Blake Nelson’s The Grey Zone (2001), Keitel made a comeback to mainstream commercial films in 2002 by undertaking the supporting role of FBI Agent Jack Crawford in Red Dragon, starring Anthony Hopkins and Edward Norton, before playing the mysterious and cagey grandfather in Juan Gerard’s Dreaming of Julia (2003). He again experienced a blockbuster hit with National Treasure (2004), starring Nicolas Cage, and offered a compelling turn as a wicked music manager in Be Cool (2005), the amusing installment to Get Shorty. In 2006, he had roles in A Crime, The Path to 9/11 (TV), The Stone Merchant and Arthur and the Invisibles.
The 68-year-old actor is set to play Zowie in the romantic coming-of-age drama My Sexiest Year (2007), opposite Frankie Muniz, and a supporting role in The Ministers (2007), starring John Leguizamo. He will also star as Jacob in the drama film The Dust of Time (2007) and reprise his role as Sadusky in the sequel National Treasure: The Book of Secrets (2007).