Harvey Keitel


Harvey Keitel (born May 13, 1939) is an American actor and producer. He studied under both Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg and at the HB Studio, eventually landing roles in some Off-Broadway productions. His first film role was an uncredited part in John Huston‘s Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), starring Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor. During this time, he auditioned for filmmaker Martin Scorsese and gained his first starring role as J.R., in Scorsese’s first feature film, Who’s That Knocking at My Door (1967).

Since then, Scorsese and Keitel have worked together on several projects. Keitel had the starring role in Scorsese’s Mean Streets (1973), which also proved to be Robert De Niro‘s breakthrough role; Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974), starring Ellen Burstyn, in which he had a villainous supporting role; and appeared with De Niro again in Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976), playing the role of Jodie Foster‘s character’s pimp.

In 1977 and 1978, Keitel starred in the directorial debuts of Paul Schrader (Blue Collar, co-starring Richard Pryor and Yaphet Kotto), Ridley Scott (The Duellists, as a French lieutenant stuck in a series duels spanning years with another French lieutenant played by Keith Carradine), and James Toback (Fingers, in which Keitel played a street hood with aspirations of being a pianist – a role Toback wrote for De Niro to play).

Keitel was cast as Captain Willard in Francis Ford Coppola‘s Apocalypse Now (1979), and 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 as a passive onlooker”. After viewing the first week’s footage, Coppola replaced Keitel with a casting session favorite, Martin Sheen.

Keitel continued to do work on both stage and screen during the 80s, but usually in the stereotypical role of a thug. He played a corrupt police officer in the 1983 thriller Copkiller (co-starring musician John Lydon), before taking a supporting role in the romantic drama Falling in Love (1984), starring De Niro and Meryl Streep. Between 1985 and 1988, he was the busiest character actor around appearing in 16 films and telefilms, including Brian De Palma‘s mobster comedy Wise Guys (1986), starring Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo; and as Judas in Scorsese’s controversial The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), with Willem Dafoe as Jesus.

He co-starred with Jack Nicholson in the Chinatown sequel The Two Jakes (1990), directed by Nicholson. Scott cast Keitel as the sympathetic policeman in Thelma & Louise (1991), with Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Michael Madsen, and Brad Pitt; that same year, Keitel landed a role in Barry Levinson’s Bugsy (starring Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Ben Kingsley, Elliott Gould, Bebe Neuwirth, and Joe Mantegna), for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The following year, Keitel played another mobster in the Whoopi Goldberg-starring comedy Sister Act, co-starring Maggie Smith.

In 1992, Keitel starred (along with Steve Buscemi, Madsen, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, and Lawrence Tierney) in Quentin Tarantino‘s debut film, Reservoir Dogs (which he also co-produced), 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. One of those roles was the title character in Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant, about a self-loathing, drug-addicted police lieutenant trying to redeem himself. He co-starred with Holly Hunter, Sam Neill, and Anna Paquin in Jane Campion’s The Piano (1993), Philip Kaufman’s Rising Sun (1993), with Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes; and played an efficient cleanup expert, Winston “The Wolf” Wolfe in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994), with John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson. Other notable films during this time include Smoke (1995), with William Hurt, Stockard Channing, and Forest Whitaker; and its followup Blue in the Face (1995), with Lou Reed, Michael J. Fox, Jim Jarmusch, Lily Tomlin, and Victor Argo.

Keitel starred as a police detective in Spike Lee‘s Clockers (1995), with John Turturro, Delroy Lindo, and Mekhi Phifer; He had a major role in Robert Rodriguez‘s film From Dusk till Dawn (1996), with George Clooney, Tarantino, and Juliette Lewis), and in 1997 he starred in James Mangold‘s crime drama Cop Land, which also starred Sylvester Stallone, Ray Liotta and De Niro.

In 1999, Keitel was replaced by Sydney Pollack on the set of Stanley Kubrick‘s Eyes Wide Shut (starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman), due to shooting conflicts, and appeared in Tony Bui’s award-winning directorial debut, Three Seasons (which Keitel also executive produced). He also re-teamed with Campion for Holy Smoke! (1999), with Kate Winslet and Pam Grier.

His later roles include the fatherly Satan in Little Nicky (2000), with Adam Sandler, Patricia Arquette, Rhys Ifans, Tom “Tiny” Lister Jr., and Rodney Dangerfield; a wise Navy man in U-571 (2000), diligent FBI Special agent Sadusky in National Treasure (2004) and the latter’s sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007), both with Nicolas Cage. He also played an FBI agent in Red Dragon (2002), with Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Mary-Louise Parker, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

He’s collaborated with filmmaker Wes Anderson on three films so far: Moonrise Kingdom (2012), with Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, and Tilda Swinton; The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), with Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Adrian Brody, Jeff Goldblum, F. Murray Abraham, Jude Law, and Saorise Ronan, and Jude Law; and the stop motion animated film Isle of Dogs (2018), featuring the voices of Bryan Cranston, Scarlett Johansson, Ken Watanabe, and Greta Gerwig.

He re-teamed with Scorsese for the first time in 30 years to appear in the epic crime film The Irishman, with De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. This marked his sixth film with Scorsese, seventh with De Niro and first with Pacino and Pesci. The film went on to be nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

  • Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967) – directed by John Huston – uncredited
  • Who’s That Knocking at My Door (1967) – directed by Martin Scorsese
  • Brewster McCloud (1970) – directed by Robert Altman – uncredited
  • Mean Streets (1973) – directed by Martin Scorsese
  • Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974) – directed by Martin Scorsese
  • That’s the Way of the World (1975) – directed by Sig Shore
  • Taxi Driver (1976) – directed by Martin Scorsese
  • Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976) – directed by Peter Yates
  • Buffalo Bill and the Indians (1976) – directed by Robert Altman
  • Welcome to L.A. (1976) – directed by Alan Rudolph
  • The Duellists (1977) – directed by Ridley Scott
  • Blue Collar (1978) – directed by Paul Schrader
  • Fingers (1978) – directed by James Toback
  • Eagle’s Wing (1979) – directed by Anthony Harvey
  • Death Watch (1980) – directed by Bertrand Tavernier
  • Saturn 3 (1980) – directed by Stanley Donen – voice dubbed by Roy Dotrice
  • Bad Timing (1980) – directed by Nicolas Roeg
  • The Border (1982) – directed by Tony Richardson
  • That Night in Varennes (1982) – directed by Ettore Scola
  • Copkiller (1983) – directed by Roberto Faenza
  • Exposed (1983) – directed by James Toback
  • Falling in Love (1984) – directed by Ulu Grosbard
  • Nemo (1984) – directed by Arnaud Sélignac
  • Camorra (A Story of Streets, Women and Crime) (1985) – directed by Lina Wertmüller
  • The Knight of the Dragon (1985) – directed by Fernando Colomo
  • Off Beat (1986) – directed by Michael Dinner
  • Wise Guys (1986) – directed by Brian De Palma
  • The Men’s Club (1986) – directed by Peter Medak
  • The Inquiry (1987) – directed by Damiano Damiani
  • Blindside (1987) – directed by Paul Lynch
  • The Pick-up Artist (1987) – directed by James Toback
  • The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) – directed by Martin Scorsese
  • Dear Gorbachev (1988) – directed by Carlo Lizzani
  • The January Man (1989) – directed by Pat O’Connor
  • Two Evil Eyes (1990) – directed by George A. Romero & Dario Argento
  • The Two Jakes (1990) – directed by Jack Nicholson
  • Grandi cacciatori (1990) – directed by Augusto Caminito
  • Mortal Thoughts (1991) – directed by Alan Rudolph
  • Thelma & Louise (1991) – directed by Ridley Scott
  • Bugsy (1991) – directed by Barry Levinson
  • Reservoir Dogs (1992)** – directed by Quentin Tarantino – also co-producer
  • Bad Lieutenant (1992) – directed by Abel Ferrara
  • Sister Act (1992) – directed by Emile Ardolino
  • Point of No Return (1993) – directed by John Badham
  • The Piano (1993) – directed by Jane Campion
  • Rising Sun (1993) – directed by Philip Kaufman
  • Dangerous Game (1993) – directed by Abel Ferrara
  • The Young Americans (1993) – directed by Danny Cannon
  • Monkey Trouble (1994)* – directed by Franco Amurr
  • Pulp Fiction (1994) – directed by Quentin Tarantino
  • Somebody to Love (1994) – directed by Alexandre Rockwell
  • Imaginary Crimes (1994) – directed by Anthony Drazan
  • Smoke (1995) – directed by Wayne Wang
  • Blue in the Face (1995) – directed by Wayne Wang & Paul Auster – also executive producer
  • Ulysses’ Gaze (1995) – directed by Theo Angelopoulos
  • Clockers (1995) – directed by Spike Lee
  • Get Shorty (1995) – directed by Barry Sonnenfeld – uncredited cameo as himself
  • From Dusk till Dawn (1996) – directed by Robert Rodriguez
  • Head Above Water (1996) – directed by Jim Wilson
  • City of Industry (1997) – directed by John Irvin
  • Cop Land (1997) – directed by James Mangold
  • FairyTale: A True Story (1997) – directed by Charles Sturridge
  • Shadrach (1998) – directed by Susanna Styron
  • Lulu on the Bridge (1998) – directed by Paul Auster
  • Finding Graceland (1998) – directed by David Winkler
  • Gunslinger’s Revenge (1998) – directed by Giovanni Veronesi
  • Three Seasons (1999) – directed by Tony Bui – also executive producer
  • Holy Smoke! (1999) – directed by Jane Campion
  • Presence of Mind (1999) – directed by Antoni Aloy
  • U-571 (2000) – directed by Jonathan Mostow
  • Prince of Central Park (2000) – directed by John Leekley
  • Little Nicky (2000) – directed by Steven Brill
  • Viper (2000) – directed by Sergio Citti
  • Nailed (2001) – directed by Joel Silverman
  • Taking Sides (2001) – directed by István Szabó
  • Ginostra (2002) – directed by Manuel Pradal
  • The Grey Zone (2002) – directed by Tim Blake Nelson – also executive producer
  • Red Dragon (2002) – directed by Brett Ratner
  • Crime Spree (2003) – directed by Brad Mirman
  • The Galíndez File (2003) – directed by Gerardo Herrero
  • Who Killed the Idea? (2003) – short
  • Dreaming of Julia (2003) – directed by Juan Gerard – also producer
  • Chasing the Elephant (2003) – short
  • Puerto Vallarta Squeeze (2004) – directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman
  • National Treasure (2004) – directed by Jon Turteltaub
  • The Bridge of San Luis Rey (2004) – directed by Mary McGuckian
  • Be Cool (2005) – directed by F. Gary Gray
  • Shadows in the Sun (2005) – directed by Brad Mirman – TV movie
  • One Last Dance (2006) – directed by Max Makowski
  • A Crime (2006) – directed by Manuel Pradal
  • The Stone Merchant (2006) – directed by Renzo Martinelli
  • Arthur and the Minimoys (2006) – directed by Luc Besson
  • My Sexiest Year (2007) – directed by Howard Himelstein
  • National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007) – directed by Jon Turteltaub
  • Inglourious Basterds (2009)* – directed by Quentin Tarantino – uncredited voice
  • The Ministers (2009) – directed by Franc. Reyes
  • Wrong Turn at Tahoe (2009) – directed by Franck Khalfoun
  • A Beginner’s Guide to Endings (2010) – directed by Jonathan Sobol
  • Little Fockers (2010) – directed by Paul Weitz
  • The Last Godfather (2010) – directed by Shim Hyung-rae
  • Moonrise Kingdom (2012)* – directed by Wes Anderson
  • A Farewell to Fools (2013) – directed by Bogdan Dreyer
  • The Power Inside (2013) – directed by Josh Gordon & Will Speck
  • The Congress (2013) – directed by Ari Folman
  • Two Men in Town (2014) – directed by Rachid Bouchareb
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)* – directed by Wes Anderson
  • Rio, I Love You (2014) – directed by Stephan Elliott, Fernando Meirelles, José Padilha, Paolo Sorrentino, Andrucha Waddington, Vicente Amorim, Guillermo Arriaga, Im Sang-soo, Nadine Labaki, & Carlos Saldanha – anthology
  • By the Gun (2014) – directed by James Mottern
  • Gandhi of the Month (2014) –
  • Youth (2015) – directed by Paolo Sorrentino
  • Outlaws (2015) – short
  • The Ridiculous 6 (2015) – directed by Frank Coraci
  • Chosen (2016) – directed by Jasmin Dizdar
  • The Comedian (2016) – directed by Taylor Hackford
  • Madame (2017) – directed by Amanda Sthers
  • Lies We Tell (2017) – directed by Mitu Misra
  • Isle of Dogs (2018)* – directed by Wes Anderson
  • First We Take Brooklyn (2018) – directed by Danny A. Abeckaser
  • The Last Man (2018) – directed by Rodrigo H. Vila
  • Esau (2019) – directed by Pavel Lungin
  • See You Soon (2019) – directed by David Mahmoudieh
  • The Painted Bird (2019) – directed by Václav Marhoul
  • The Irishman (2019) – directed by Martin Scorsese
  • Fatima (2020) – directed by Marco Pontecorvo
  • Blood on the Crown (2021) – directed by Davide Ferrario
  • Lansky (TBA) – directed by Eytan Rockaway