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Harvey Keitel Quotes

Harvey Keitel

Harvey Keitel quotes: on not finishing high school, joining the Marines, toughening up, becoming a better actor, and more.

“You work and you try and find the work that suits you the best and you enjoy the most.”

“Everything is difficult, everything is a struggle and everything worthwhile is difficult. I don’t think about those things, really. I work hard on everything I do. I work with the same intensity on the craft, on the creation, on the preparation.”

“If you have that drive and you have whatever it takes to fulfill it, you have a chance.”

“I’ve worked hard and I studied hard. I was lucky to meet the greats in New York, great acting teachers, great actors. But I did get very lucky. We all need luck in life and it’s not a commodity you can order up.”

“I didn’t think I was particularly good at acting but I wanted to be, I had a strong will to be good at it. And it was my need to know, my need to draw my pictures on the cave walls about what my fears were, what my needs were. Somewhere in there… I was in a cave and I needed to draw some pictures on the wall about what my journey was, and that drive, that need, led me to acting. I wasn’t good at it, but I had a deep, intense desire to be good at it, and all my failings didn’t stop me. I had that will to learn that kept me going through all my effort, through all of my struggle.”

“You have to live the life… as you say, which means doing things. It doesn’t just mean giving yourself a title, a star, success. All success is in the struggle, and in the work itself, not in the result. The result’s wonderful—[but] the real success is in the struggle.”

“To have anything worthwhile, I would think one wants to go into places they have not been and don’t know, in order to find out what’s there. I mean this in a spiritual way, I don’t mean it in a material way. We have to ask questions, and dare to find an answer.”

“I mean when someone says, ‘What’s out there?’ Who doesn’t want to know about how the universe began and where it came from? Who doesn’t want to know that? If someone says to you, ‘Now David, I’m gonna put you on a rocket and send you up there and you’re gonna find out,’ I mean you’re gonna want to go but you’re gonna be scared also. But how much you know will be dependent upon whether you can face that fear. You climb on that rocket and say, ‘Whooah, sorry, send somebody else.'”

“I’ve been learning from Marines, and from Marines before me. Learning about fear, learning how to deal with it. Learning about camaraderie. Learning about the nobler elements of your being.”

“It’s never too late for a comeback.”

“I think that’s what change is, we evolve.”

“There’s no such thing as one too many this, one too many that.”

“You can’t love yourself until you have a feeling of doing what’s right. If you don’t respect yourself you can’t respect anybody else. It begins with your ‘self.’ Capital S.”

“It’s a struggle worthwhile knowing because we all should be struggling with those elements in ourselves to do what’s right, and it’s a struggle, ’cause there are temptations to take us in all different directions. Unless we admit that and come to know that, there’s no chance of doing what’s right. We’re all sinners! The only difference is those who want to do what’s right and those who don’t give a sh*t about it.”

“Leadership is a quality of a person. You look at their behavior, character, how they behave, what their values are.”

“People will make mistakes and courageously own up to them, which is another mark of leadership.”

“One thing’s for sure: we are going to do the wrong thing. I guess it becomes a matter of conscience, if you want to do what’s right or not. ‘Cause if you do, you will struggle and what you did that was bad, you will try to do what is good.”

“True toughness doesn’t need to parade itself for show. It doesn’t need the spectacle because it’s inner-driven.”

“I came from a lower middle-class home, I was looking to be somebody, to feel like somebody and unfortunately I got myself thrown out of high school when I was 16. Two close friends of mine also quit school and we were 16 year-old men walking the streets of Brooklyn. We all joined the Marines looking for some heroic journey.”

“I’m fond of telling people, young people in particular, that I wouldn’t want to change anything in my life. But the one thing I would change if I could, would be to finish my high school education and go on to college instead of starting my life when I was 17 in the Marines, even if that was a great experience for three years.”

“Love will be more important to you, that that person will be more important to you than your own well-being. I happen to be lucky to be a father. And when you become a father certainly you are aware that you’ll make the ultimate sacrifice of your own life for your child’s life. And that’s sort of like a blessing, to have that awareness—not that I’m not scared to die, but I would willingly, without a doubt once my child came into my life, and became aware of my own fear and bravery.”

“You’re working on being a father, so that is something that when you experience it you’ll understand the profundity of wanting to protect something dear to you.”

“Never try to fool children. They expect nothing and therefore see everything.”

“My children understand that I’m a working man, first of all; the work I do is that of an actor. They come and they see me work, and I can only say that in that work, I try to be the truest I can be, and the most honest I can be about life as I see it and understand it. And I believe that in their watching of that work, they will be nourished in their own awareness of themselves. To pass down truth to one’s children is the best you can do. If I can do that I will have lived a good life. I’m not saying I don’t make my mistakes, but I try to do what’s right. And if you don’t, your children will let you know you didn’t!”

“I’ve always found it not only easy, but enjoyable. It’s necessary for us to reach out and I’m speaking for myself here. I certainly have a sense of responsibility to reach out to these people in the theater who might look to someone like me for some guidance.”

“I’m aware of moments in my life where I put my well-being in front of someone else’s, in front of a friend’s, and times in my life when I sacrificed my well-being for a friend’s. And it was during the latter event in which I knew myself better; I seemed to be more of what it is I admire.”

“I aspire to, if I am disappointed in the life, that I have the courage to suffer that disappointment, to suffer that anger, that grief, and to suffer the ultimate horror that is part of our existence.”

“We live and die by the rules we make.”

“Every person who chooses the service of God as his life’s work has something in common. I don’t care if you’re a preacher, a priest, a nun, a rabbi or a Buddhist monk. Many, many times during your life you will look at your reflection in a mirror and ask yourself: am I a fool? I’m not going through a lapse; what I’ve experienced is closer to awakening.”

“The way I see things, the way I see life, I see it as a struggle. And there’s a great deal of reward I have gained coming to that understanding—that existence is a struggle.”

“You say that emotions are overrated. But that’s bullsh*t. Emotions are all we’ve got.”

“Just because you are a character doesn’t mean that you have character.”

“I read, I think, I play, I work. And all that thinking and playing and reading comes into my art. I couldn’t really sit here and delineate for you what the thought process is. I can perhaps say that literature, psycho analysis and theater have been very valuable experiences that have informed and nourished me along the way.”

“I read a lot. I read a lot of books at once. I think it’s because of my weak mind. I’m trying to strengthen it.”

“I was young once, too, and handsome. You’d have been impressed.”

“They say in mythology that if you have the impulse to go on the journey, that along that journey people will come when you’re in trouble to help you through the trouble, to reach the next place on the journey. There have been all these instances which are part of my life.”

“I believe every day when I wake up and go to bed and during my dreaming time there’s some moment of truth that’s in front of me that will always be in front of me until the end of days.”

“I think of myself as a former Marine who got lucky. Really lucky. So, I’m just grateful for the luck I’ve had, the people I’ve met, including the Marines.”

“Have a good time and have some fun.”

“The journey isn’t over, not yet!”

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