“As a Jew, I was interested in playing an SS officer” | Culture

Keitel (left) received Locarno’s Golden Leonardo from director Abel Ferrera last Saturday. Getty Images

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Without a doubt, the big star of this 69th edition of the Locarno Festival has been Harvey Keitel. The actor, born in Brooklyn in 1939, received from the hands of Abel Ferrara (who directed him in the mythical Bad Lieutenant) the Golden Leopard to the whole of his career on Saturday night in a crowded Piazza Grande. The next morning, the unforgettable interpreter of The piano O Pulp Fictionreceived EL PAÍS in a hotel on Lake Maggiore. His press agent only put two conditions: no questions about the current presidential elections in the United States, a recurring question when American personalities pass through Europe, nor about the Actor’s Studio, a curious request in the case of the co-president of the prestigious school of interpreters.

Keitel begins by reminiscing about his first meeting with Quentin Tarantino. “He came to my door to propose Reservoir Dogs asking if I was Mr. Kítel, to which I replied that my name is pronounced Kaitel. But even today he continues to call me as he pleases, “he commented with laughter. He then asked Tarantino if he had dealt with gangsters in real life, but Tarantino said never. “And how do you go about creating such great criminal characters? “Very simple, I have seen them in movies.” Remember that at that time you had not directed a single shot. An extraordinary talent ”.

In your extensive filmography, is there a film that Keitel has a special fondness for, that audiences have ignored? One, and it’s called The Grey Zone, Explain. Starring himself, Mira Sorvino and Steve Buscemi, this grueling film tells of a prisoner revolt at Auschwitz. “I was offered the role of one of the bosses who take the bodies out of the gas chambers and take them to the crematorium, but as a Jew I found it much more interesting to explore and embody the role of the SS officer. It was a movie that has marked me because I grew up surrounded by people who had the tattoos of the fields on their forearms. I regret that the public did not know how to appreciate it in all its value ”.

The rise of the series

Asked about the democratization of cinema, the rise of the internet and series, Keitel is enthusiastic about the “Netflix generation”. “I think they are employing a lot of people, and opening doors. You can easily make a movie with the camera you have here, ”he says. “I think that young people should be less lazy and get more involved in new projects. Do less remakes unnecessary and more talk about the world around us. Steal the money if necessary, but bring us the Bad streets from today. Don’t wait for Hollywood, because these young creators are already Hollywood ”, he emphatically affirms.

Bad Lieutenant, Malas calles O Taxi Driver (these last two directed by Martin Scorsese) have marked his career and the fans of millions of moviegoers. Now he doubts that they could have been shot today. “The criteria have changed a lot, and I doubt that today we would have been able to work with that independence,” he laments. And when mentioning the mythical Taxi Driver, Keitel recalls the protagonist, Robert de Niro, one of his “two soul brothers”, the other is Martin Scorsese.

The interpreter is these days filming in Paris. It’s all about the comedy Madame, starring Rossy de Palma and Toni Collette, directed by Amanda Sthers. He states that he would be excited to work with Michael Haneke and Noah Baumbach, but the great actor misses getting on the stage and chooses to conclude by talking about his first love: the theater. “In my time we didn’t have video, so we had to learn everything from theater. It’s tough to play a theatrical role five nights a week. You have no life, but if someone reads this and has a good proposal to make, I will listen to them with great interest ”.