Actor, producer and part-time insurance salesman Harvey Keitel can do it all. A regular collaborator with both Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, Keitel has carved a niche playing nefarious characters, but is equally as brilliant playing more sympathetic roles.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary release of Jane Campion’s masterpiece THE PIANO, in which Harvey Keitel plays a farmer who falls in love with his friend’s wife, we look at some of his greatest performances.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Six criminals, who are strangers to each other, are hired by a crime boss and given aliases. When the diamond robbery they were hired to carried out goes horribly wrong, they each begin to suspect each other of being an undercover cop. Harvey Keitel plays Mr White, who looks after an injured Mr Orange (Tim Roth) while the group cross and double cross each other. The film performed incredibly well at the box office and made Keitel a household name.
Mean Streets (1973)
Harvey Keitel plays Charlie, who’s feelings of responsibility to his reckless friend Johnny (Robert De Niro) and girlfriend Teresa (Amy Robinson) come to a head when Jimmy gets on the wrong side of a loan shark. In an attempt to save his friend, Charlie suggests they run away but the boys find they have much to learn on the mean streets of New York City.
Thelma And Louise (1991)
Best friends Thelma (Geena Davies) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) embark on an adventure to break up the monotony of their ordinary lives. But when a trip to a bar one night ends in tragedy, the women find themselves on the run from the police. Harvey Keitel plays state police investigator Hal, who immediately sympathises with the plight of the women and tries in vain to help them out of the rapidly deteriorating situation they find themselves in.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
The lives of two mob hitmen, a boxer and a gangster’s wife intertwine in three tales of violence and redemption. Harvey Keitel plays Winston Wolfe, a cleaner tasked with helping John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson’s iconic hitmen after they accidentally shoot a fellow criminal in the head. Tarantino wrote the part of Wolfe specifically for Keitel, who was instrumental in its production. In Tarantino’s words, “Harvey had been my favourite actor since I was 16 years old.”
The Piano (1993)
A mute Scottish woman named Ada (Holly Hunter) is sent to New Zealand in the 1850s along with her young daughter (Anna Paquin) and prized piano for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner (Sam Neill). When her new husband gives her piano away to his friend Baines, played by Harvey Keitel, she makes a deal with Baines to earn her piano back. With the piano being one of the methods that she communicates, Baines and Ada soon form a close relationship, threatening Ada’s marriage and Baines’ friendship.