Harvey Keitel

Harvey Keitel Headshot

Actor • Producer

Birth Date: May 13, 1939

Age: 84 years old

Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York

Partners: Lorraine Bracco

To pigeonhole Harvey Keitel as a master of edgy degenerates and killers would have dismissed the actor's many successes with surly husbands, benign cops and intrepid detectives. His prolific but slow-to-ignite career began with memorably unlikable supporting roles in Martin Scorsese character studies "Taxi Driver" (1976) and "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" (1974), though he turned to European films shortly thereafter when he failed to find a suitable place in mainstream films. An Academy-Award nominated supporting role in "Bugsy" (1991) heralded a new beginning for Keitel on American soil, and he became a favorite on the indie film scene of the 1990s through his association with Quentin Tarantino cult classics "Reservoir Dogs" (1992) and "Pulp Fiction" (1994). Keitel had several successes when he chose to tap his inner soft side, like in Jane Campion's "The Piano" (1993), but by far, he was the go-to guy for potentially explosive everymen, grizzled police force veterans and G-men in both subtle indies and gun-blazing big budget adventures alike.

Born May 13, 1939, Keitel was raised in Brooklyn, NY where his Polish and Romanian immigrant parents owned and operated a luncheonette. At 16, Keitel joined the Marines and served overseas in the Middle East. When he returned home, he began to pursue an interest in acting, training at the famed Actors Studio before eventually landing stage roles in summer stock, repertory, and the fringes of off-off Broadway and community theater. He made his off Broadway debut in Sam Shepard's "Up to Thursday" in 1965 and two years later began his association with director Martin Scorsese when he answered a newspaper ad placed by the then-NYU student director. Scorsese cast him in "Who's That Knocking at My Door?" (1967), which evolved from a student short to Scorsese's well-received feature debut. Keitel went on to make a strong impression with a breakout role as the director's alter ego in "Mean Streets" (1973), though his more introspective character suffered by proximity to Robert De Niro's explosive, out-of-control Johnny Boy.

Playing the first of many violent, abusive parts, Keitel reportedly terrified co-star Ellen Burstyn (who won an Oscar for her performance) in Scorsese's "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" (1974). He collaborated with the director again in an unforgettable performance as the pimp (and lover) of teenage runaway prostitute Jodie Foster in "Taxi Driver" (1976); the sheer brilliance of his portrayal lost amidst the kudos for De Niro's tour de force turn as Travis Bickle. Keitel's career promise continued to rise when he landed a leading role in "Apocalypse Now" (1979), but after a falling out with director Francis Ford Coppola, he was replaced by Martin Sheen. Instead of starring in one of the most publicized films of its day, he acted in Ridley Scott's commercially unsuccessful adaptation of Joseph Conrad's "The Duellists" (1977). Keitel was outstanding as a street-smart, aspiring concert pianist who collects debts for his domineering father in James Toback's "Fingers" (1978), zooming in on women and danger with a self-destructive fervor. He also delivered a strong performance as an auto worker up against a corrupt union in Paul Schrader's underrated "Blue Collar" (1978), but he should have avoided the dubious British oater "Eagle's Wing" (1978), directed by Anthony Harvey.

During the 1980s Keitel's visibility slipped, and he appeared in character roles for international productions like Bertrand Tavernier's sci-fi offering "Deathwatch" (1980), Tony Richardson's thriller "The Border" (1982), and several titles from Lina Wertmuller including "Vicoli e Deliitti" (1985). Keitel resurfaced in mainstream American cinema in Brian De Palma's unsuccessful stab at a mob comedy, "Wise Guys" (1986), and re-teamed with Toback for a small role in the romantic comedy "The Pick-Up Artist" (1987). But it was Keitel's portrait of a tortured, ambivalent Judas Iscariot in Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ" (1988) that brought the actor back into the general public consciousness, though the controversial but critically well-received film was not popular at the box office. Keitel's co-starring role as a police commissioner brother of Kevin Kline in "The January Man" (1989) was a dud, and the "Chinatown" (1975) sequel "The Two Jakes" (1990) was also an unfortunate flop that threatened to start Keitel's unhappy cycle all over again. The actor rebounded with a meaty role as a sympathetic detective tracking a pair of unwitting outlaws (Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis) in the hit, "Thelma & Louise" (1991).

The noir biopic "Bugsy" (1991) reinstated Keitel on the industry's A-list, with a forcefully-drawn performance as Jewish mobster Mickey Cohen that earned him his first Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor. He went on to become a significant figure in 1990s independent filmmaking after proving a godsend to novice writer-director Quentin Tarantino, agreeing to star in and co-produce "Reservoir Dogs" (1992). His involvement enabled the project's budget to soar from $35,000 to $400,000 and attract other major talents that helped make it into an enduring cult classic. Keitel's no-holds-barred performance as the corrupt, substance-abusing antihero of Abel Ferrara's "Bad Lieutenant" (1992) also brought critical kudos and helped boost the reputation of that formerly "B-plus" indie filmmaker. Keitel went on to credit Jane Campion, writer-director of "The Piano" (1993), for helping him alter his tough-guy persona when she cast him in the surprisingly romantic role of Holly Hunter's lover in that film, although his more typical, cool machismo was back on display in Tarantino's galvanizing "Pulp Fiction" (1994).

Keitel was perhaps never better than in his subtle, low-key performance as the proprietor of a Brooklyn cigar shop in Wayne Wang's popular art house movie "Smoke" (1995) and its companion piece, "Blue in the Face" (1995). Keitel's stock held strong with another detective role in Spike Lee's critically acclaimed drama "Clockers" (1995), and a strong supporting performance as the patriarch of a vacationing family who find themselves battling vampires in Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's "From Dusk Till Dawn" (1996). He returned to Europe to play Harry Houdini in the fanciful British period piece "Fairy Tale (1996) and went back to grittier territory in James Mangold's "Cop Land" (1997), an above average police drama anchored by an excellent ensemble cast including Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro. Non-studio fare remained closest to Keitel's heart, and his involvement as executive producer and lead role as an ex-Marine in search of redemption in Tony Bui's "Three Seasons" (1999) helped that film win both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance. He also reteamed that year with Campion on "Holy Smoke" as a cult exit counselor who goes astray while deprogramming Kate Winslet.

Keitel was part of the all-star ensemble of the WWII submarine tale "U-571" (2000) before sending up his dark image to play Satan in the Adam Sandler comedic misfire, "Little Nicky" (2000). In 2001, the Goatsingers, a New York-based production company formed by Keitel and Peggy Gormley, produced "The Grey Zone," Tim Blake Nelson's holocaust drama in which Keitel also co-starred alongside David Arquette and Steve Buscemi. Keitel made a return to mainstream commercial fare with "Red Dragon," third in the series of films featuring Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Keitel served as producer on Juan Gerard's memoir of his Cuban childhood "Dreaming of Julia" (2003) and had a supporting role opposite Nicolas Cage in the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced action blockbuster "National Treasure" (2004), followed by a charismatic role as a villainous music manager in "Be Cool" (2005), the entertaining sequel to "Get Shorty" (1995). In 2006, Keitel starred as an FBI special agent in the highly controversial docudrama miniseries "The Path to 9/11." The following year, he reprised another of his FBI characters in the blockbuster actioner, "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" (2007). In a surprising shift to series television, Keitel was cast in the police drama "Life on Mars" (ABC, 2008-09), where he played a New York police lieutenant, circa the fashion-challenged early 1970s, alongside Michael Imperioli, Gretchen Mol and Lisa Bonet.

Credits

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

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Lali
Series
2024

National Treasure: Edge of HistoryStream

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Peter Sadusky
Series
2022
38%

MikeStream

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Cus D'Amato
Miniseries
2022
43%

The Baker

Actor
Merchant
Movie
2022

Lansky

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Meyer Lansky
Movie
2021

Fatima

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Professor Nichols
Movie
2020

Blood on the Crown

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General Hunter Blair
Movie
2020

The IrishmanStream

Actor
Angelo Bruno
Movie
2019
95%

See You Soon

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Billy
Movie
2019

Nabarvené ptáce

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Priest
Movie
2019

Esau

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Abraham
Movie
2019

Isle of Dogs

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Gondo
Movie
2018

First We Take Brooklyn

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Anatoly
Movie
2018

The Last Man

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Noe
Movie
2018

Lies We Tell

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Demi
Movie
2017

Madame

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Bob Fredericks
Movie
2017

Die Kunst diesen Film zu machen: From Dusk Till Dawn

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Show
2016

Chosen

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Sonson
Movie
2016

The Comedian

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Mac
Movie
2016

The Late Show With Stephen ColbertStream

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Talk
2015

YouthStream

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Mick Boyle
Movie
2015
72%

Rio Heat

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Henry Humbolt
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2015

Behind the White Glasses

Self
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2015

The Grand Budapest HotelStream

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Ludwig
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2014
92%

Two Men in Town

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Bill Agati
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2014

By the Gun

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Salvatore Vitaglia
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2014

Rio, Eu te Amo

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O Ator
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2014

Vanity Fair's Hollywood

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2013

The Congress

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Al
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2013

A Farewell to Fools

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Father Johanis
Movie
2013

Fatal HoneymoonStream

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Tommy Thomas
Movie
2012

Little FockersStream

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Randy Weir
Movie
2010
9%

The Last Godfather

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Don Carini
Movie
2010

A Beginner's Guide to Endings

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Duke White
Movie
2010

The 32nd Annual Kennedy Center Honors

Guest
Show
2009

The Ministers

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Joseph Bruno
Movie
2009

Wrong Turn at Tahoe

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Nino
Movie
2009

Life on MarsStream

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Lt. Gene Hunt
Series
2008

Studio Spotlight

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Show
2008

National Treasure: Book of SecretsStream

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Peter Sadusky
Movie
2007
36%

My Sexiest Year

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Zowie
Movie
2007

The Path to 9/11

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Show
2006

One Last Dance

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Terrtano
Movie
2006

The Stone Merchant

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Ludovico Vicedomini
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2006

A Crime

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Roger Culkin
Movie
2006

Valzer finale per un killer

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2005

The Outsider

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2005

Be CoolStream

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Nicki Carr
Movie
2005
30%

The Shadow Dancer

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Weldon
Movie
2005

Tavis Smiley

Guest
Talk
2004

Puerto Vallarta Squeeze

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Movie
2004

Dieses Jahr in Czernowitz

Self
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2004

National TreasureStream

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Sadusky
Movie
2004
46%

The Bridge of San Luis Rey

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Uncle Pio
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2004

Cuba Libre

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Che
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2003

Cuba Libre

Producer
Movie
2003

Wanted

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Frankie Zammeti
Movie
2003

The Galindez File

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Robards
Movie
2003

Beeper

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Zolo
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2002

Red Dragon

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Jack Crawford
Movie
2002

Nowhere

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2002

Ginostra

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Matt Benson
Movie
2002

Siva zona

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Movie
2001

The Grey Zone

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Muhsfeldt
Movie
2001

The Grey Zone

Executive Producer
Movie
2001

Nailed

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Tony Romano
Movie
2001

Taking Sides

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Major Steve Arnold
Movie
2001

Viper

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Leone
Movie
2001

Batalla en el Atlántico

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2000

Fail SafeStream

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Brig. Gen. Warren Black
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2000
100%

U-571

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Chief Klough
Movie
2000

Little NickyStream

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Dad
Movie
2000
22%

Presence of Mind

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The Master
Movie
2000

Three Seasons

Actor
James Hager
Movie
1999

Three Seasons

Executive Producer
Movie
1999

Prince of Central Park

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The Guardian
Movie
1999

Holy Smoke

Actor
PJ Walters
Movie
1999

Shadrach

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Vernon
Movie
1998

Lulu on the Bridge

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Izzy Maurer
Movie
1998

Finding Graceland

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Elvis
Movie
1998

My West

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Johnny Lowen
Movie
1998

Ley Back

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Roy Egan
Movie
1997

City of Industry

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Roy Egan
Movie
1997

Cop LandStream

Actor
Ray Donlan
Movie
1997
75%

Fairy Tale: A True Story

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Harry Houdini
Movie
1997

From Dusk Till DawnStream

Actor
Jacob Fuller
Movie
1996
63%

Head Above Water

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George
Movie
1996

Smoke

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Augustus 'Auggie' Wren
Movie
1995

Blue in the Face

Actor
Auggie Wren
Movie
1995

Blue in the Face

Executive Producer
Movie
1995

Ulysses' Gaze

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A
Movie
1995

ClockersStream

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Det. Rocco Klein
Movie
1995
73%

Get ShortyStream

Self
Movie
1995
88%

Inside the Actors Studio

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Talk
1994

Monkey Trouble

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Azro
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1994

Pulp FictionStream

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Winston Wolf
Movie
1994
92%

Imaginary Crimes

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Ray Weiler
Movie
1994

Somebody to Love

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Harry Harrelson
Movie
1994

Point of No Return

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Victor
Movie
1993

The PianoStream

Actor
George Baines
Movie
1993
90%

Rising SunStream

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Lt. Tom Graham
Movie
1993
33%

Snake Eyes

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Eddie Israel
Movie
1993

The Young Americans

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John Harris
Movie
1993

Reservoir DogsStream

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Mr. White/Larry
Movie
1992
90%

Reservoir DogsStream

Co-Producer
Movie
1992
90%

Bad LieutenantStream

Actor
The Lieutenant
Movie
1992
78%

Sister ActStream

Actor
Vince LaRocca
Movie
1992
75%

Amazing Stories: The Movie IV

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Byron Sullivan
Movie
1991

Mortal Thoughts

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Detective John Woods
Movie
1991

Thelma & LouiseStream

Actor
Hal
Movie
1991
86%

BugsyStream

Actor
Mickey Cohen
Movie
1991
84%

The Two JakesStream

Actor
Julius 'Jake' Berman
Movie
1990
66%

La Batalla de los Tres Reyes

Actor
Movie
1990

Two Evil Eyes

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Roderick Usher (segment "The Black Cat")
Movie
1990

The Last Temptation of ChristStream

Actor
Judas Iscariot
Movie
1988
82%

The January ManStream

Actor
Police Commissioner Frank Starkey
Movie
1988
24%

Grandi cacciatori

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Thomas
Movie
1988

Blindside

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Penfield Gruber
Movie
1987

Fuego Fatal

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1987

The Pick-Up Artist

Actor
Alonzo Scolara
Movie
1987
61%

The Inquiry

Actor
Ponzio Pilato
Movie
1987

El Lado Oscuro

Actor
Movie
1987

L'inchiesta

Actor
Ponzio Pilato
Movie
1986

La sposa americana

Actor
Sacha
Movie
1986

Caballero Estrella

Actor
Movie
1986

Camorra

Actor
Frankie
Movie
1986

Off Beat

Actor
Mickey
Movie
1986

Wise Guys

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Bobby DiLea
Movie
1986

The Men's Club

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Solly Berliner
Movie
1986

Les Deux nigauds de la mafia

Actor
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1986

Amazing StoriesStream

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Series
1985

The Knight of the Dragon

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Klever
Movie
1985

Dream One

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Mr. Legend
Movie
1984

Cop Killers

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Lt. Fred O'Connor
Movie
1984

Falling in Love

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Ed Lasky
Movie
1984

Exposed

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Rivas
Movie
1983

Une Pierre dans la bouche

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Movie
1983

The Border

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Cat
Movie
1982

Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession

Actor
Inspector Netusil
Movie
1980

Death Watch

Actor
Roddy
Movie
1980

Saturn 3Stream

Actor
Benson
Movie
1980
33%

CBS News Sunday Morning

Guest
News
1979

Eagle's Wing

Actor
Henry
Movie
1979

Chantaje Mortal y Éxito

Actor
Movie
1978

Fingers

Actor
Jimmy Fingers
Movie
1978
85%

Blue Collar

Actor
Jerry Bartowski
Movie
1978

The DuellistsStream

Actor
Feraud
Movie
1977
73%

Welcome to L.A.

Actor
Ken Hood
Movie
1977

Mother, Jugs & Speed

Actor
Speed
Movie
1976

Taxi DriverStream

Actor
Sport
Movie
1976
89%

Buffalo Bill and the Indians

Actor
Ed Goodman
Movie
1976

Saturday Night LiveStream

Guest Star
Series
1975

Saturday Night LiveStream

Host
Series
1975

Shining Star

Actor
Coleman Buckmaster
Movie
1975

A Memory of Two Mondays

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Jerry
Show
1974

Alice Doesn't Live Here AnymoreStream

Actor
Ben
Movie
1974
91%

The Virginia Hill Story

Actor
Bugsy Siegel
Movie
1974

KojakStream

Guest Star
Jerry Talaba
Series
1973

Mean StreetsStream

Actor
Charlie
Movie
1973
95%

Street Scenes

Self
Movie
1970

The Dick Cavett ShowStream

Guest
Talk
1968

Who's That Knocking at My Door?

Actor
J.R.
Movie
1968

Today

Guest
News
1952

News aboutHarvey Keitel