Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The son of a Polish mother and Romanian father, he spent most of his youth on the streets of New York City. At the age of 16, Keitel decided to join the United States Marine Corps, a decision which took him to Lebanon. After his return to the United States, he floundered for a while in mediocre jobs before beginning his acting career.
Keitel studied under both Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg, eventually landing roles in some off-Broadway productions. During this time, Keitel met another struggling filmaker named Martin Scorsese and gained a part in Scorsese's student production. Since then both Scorsese and Keitel have worked together on numerous projects.
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.
Throughout the 1980s, Keitel continued to find plenty of work, but it was usually in the stereotypical role of a thug. This role reached its apotheosis when Keitel starred in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs in 1992, where his performance as Mr. White made him a star. Since then, Keitel has chosen his roles with care, seeking to change his image and show off a broader acting range. His decision to to co-star in Jane Campion's "The Piano" marks the approximate beginning of this phase of Keitel's career.
- Who's That Knocking At My Door (1967)
- Mean Streets (1973)
- Taxi Driver (1976)
- The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
- Thelma and Louise (1991)
- Bugsy (1991)
- Bad Lieutenant (1992)
- Reservoir Dogs (1992)
- Sister Act (1992)
- The Piano (1993)
- Pulp Fiction (1994)
- Smoke (1995)
- Blue in the Face (1995)
- From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
- The Prince of Central Park (1999)
- U-571 (2000)
- Little Nicky (2000)
- Red Dragon (2002)
- National Treasure (2004)
- Be Cool (2005)
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