Casting Reservoir Dogs With Harvey Keitel Let Quentin Tarantino Live Out A Lifelong Dream

In a wide-ranging interview for DGA Quarterly, Martin Scorsese, the ultimate New Yorker, asked Quentin Tarantino if he ever got a chance to catch some flicks on 42nd Street during its grindhouse prime. According to Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, who’d been cast in the role of Mr. White in “Reservoir Dogs,” wanted the first-time filmmaker to give New York City actors a shot at parts in the heist flick. That was the purpose of the visit, and it paid off handsomely via the casting of Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and Steve Buscemi.

But for Tarantino, to set foot in Manhattan and not go to a movie in Times Square would be like a devout Catholic visiting Rome and not venturing into Vatican City. As QT told Scorsese:

“[I]’m literally like, ‘OK, I’ve been wanting to go to a Times Square cinema my whole life. The first thing I’m going to do, as soon as we get done with work, I’m going to go to the Times Square, I want to go see whatever is playing.’ And Harvey goes, ‘Quentin, no you’re not. In a week or two, you could do that, but you can’t do that tomorrow. You’re too new.'”

Tarantino can take solace in knowing that video stores (where he received the bulk of his movie education) had killed off the most infamous grindhouses by this point. The Disney-fication of Times Square was drawing close on the horizon. The thrill was gone. But there isn’t a single filmmaker who’s done more to ensure that the wildest, sleaziest, goriest films from that era have been preserved via physical media. 

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