Harvey Keitel Q&A: ‘Youth’
"Now I feel as young as I did then, because the body is going but the mind isn't. The mind is forever youthful I believe," admits Harvey Keitel, comparing the beginning of his acting career in the 1970s to his current work in the film "Youth." Directed and written by Paolo Sorrentino, the movie is about celebrated filmmaker Mick Boyle (Keitel) holidaying in Switzerland with his best friend, retired conductor Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine). Boyle gets disturbing news from veteran actress Brenda Morel (Jane Fonda) while he is working on his "testament" film at the retreat.
In our recent interview, the 76-year-old character actor adds, "Paolo did such a magnificent job writing the screenplay that his reach into humanity goes very deep. He showed it in 'The Great Beauty' and 'Il Divo,' and he continues on with that reach in order to help us bring up what's deep, down, and dark within us."
Keitel says he has long admired Caine, calling him "a standard of acting" dating back to the 1960s but had never been in a film with him. Of that recent experience, he reveals, "I never knew when he was acting at times. I would step on his lines and say, 'I thought you were finished. I can't tell when you're not'."
Keitel is generating lots of buzz for Best Supporting Actor. He previously reaped Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for the 1991 film "Bugsy," losing at both ceremonies to Jack Palance ("City Slickers"). And he was part of the "The Grand Budapest Hotel" nominated ensemble at last year's SAG Awards, losing to the cast of the eventual Best Picture Oscar champ "Birdman."
Other films in his long career have included "Mean Streets," "Taxi Driver," "The Last Temptation of Christ," "Thelma and Louise," "Reservoir Dogs," "Sister Act," "Bad Lieutenant," "The Piano," "Pulp Fiction," and "National Treasure."