I remember watching the special features section of the 'Hester Street' movie DVD a while back and in it, the filmmakers were discussing the making of the movie and the casting. I don't recall her exact wording (so I'll paraphrase) but Joan Micklin Silver was discussing how actors who were first being considered for the role of Jake, had actually shied away from the role because they felt the character was too dark. And just recently, I was reading a post on IMDB's board from a viewer who actually turned the movie off because they were too "repelled" by Jake. Amazing! I can't even imagine turning off a movie or turning down a role for that reason. After all, that's just part of real l*i*f*e. Anyway, along came Steven Keats, an actor who was not at all afraid to explore every area of a character's make up, tap into that deep well, and deliver. As we all know, he ended up playing the role of Gitl's husband, Jake.
One of the things that made Steven such a great actor, was the fact that his heart, mind and soul - his entire "instrument" - was wide open and he poured all he had into every character he played. This was a wonderful script to begin with but I just can't imagine this movie without Steven Keats in it. He breathed so much life into every project he was involved in whether it was stage, movies or television. Joan was also saying how it was Steven who suggested that Bill Bolcom do the music for the movie, and so he ended up doing the score. The score was absolutely perfect, and so was the casting (which included Carol Kane, Dorrie Kavanaugh among other wonderful actors). If you're a newer fan of Steven's, I highly suggest you start out by watching Steven in 'Hester Street'. Right after that, continue with 'The Friends of Eddie Coyle' (my all-time personal favorite Steven movie!) where he shines as the flamboyant, colorful and clever gun dealer Jackie Brown. Then be very sure to watch him in an episode of Kojak called, 'Therapy in Dynamite' and in the episode of Toma called '50% of Normal'. (For a fuller list of Steven's credits, visit his IMDB page for TV/movies and then his Broadway page for stage credits). There is so much to see him in!
Steven was one of the best actors ever on stage and screen. He was never the same in any of the roles he played and he changed entirely for each individual new character. He had a real love for the craft of acting and was completely devoted to it. He didn't always get the credit and recognition that he so deserved, such as Oscars and Emmy awards for his stellar performances, but perhaps the true and most meaningful awards - and rewards - are given in the soul-satisfaction you feel deep down in your heart, when you're doing what you truly love in life. And that is what Steven was doing...acting/performing. Perhaps one day, we'll also be able to see his work on the stage (via video) - as we have been able to so many times in movies and television. Lastly, in one of my very first blog posts here, I present Steven with a well deserved Oscar and Emmy for a few of his performances and then also, with a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. The star might not be "real" but the feeling behind it is! Thanx for reading!
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He's a cool-cat clever gun runner
who was racin' bikes for kicks
but when the money started runnin' low
he needed a brand new gig
So he started dealin' in the darkest corners
with the seedy shadows of the night
collecting green for the black and silver
and only resting when it was light
You could hear his engine revvin' and then you'd see his yellow car and you could hear that funky music playin' and you knew he wasn't far
Jackie Brown was drivin round he had deals goin' down all over town always looking over his shoulder never knowing who to trust outfoxing any set ups escaping the major busts
Then he met ole Eddie "fingers"
who always called him on a dime
but then Eddie sold him down the river
a failed trade for not doing time
So don't be quick to call Jackie a "bad guy"
cuz one thing is known all around
he may get mad and get even-steven
but he'd never sell anyone out
You used to hear his engine revvin' and then you'd see his yellow car and you could hear that funky music playin' and you knew he wasn't far
Jackie Brown was drivin round
he had deals goin' down all over town
always looking over his shoulder
never knowing who to trust
outfoxing any set ups
but in the very end, succumbing to a major bust