Romanians at Hollywood (Part 6)

Today we will talk about other great actors with Romanian origins.

Winona Ryder (born Winona Laura Horowitz, October 29, 1971) is half-Romanian, his mother being the daughter of a family of Romanian immigrants.


Winona Ryder was born Winona Horowitz and named after her the town in which she was born, Winona Minnesota. She is the Goddaughter of Timothy Leary and her parents were friends of Beat poet Allen Ginsberg and once edited a book called "Shaman Woman Mainline Lady" an anthology of writings on the drug experience in literature - this included one piece by Louisa May Alcott. Winona Ryder was later to star as Jo in this author's Little Women (1994). She moved with her parents to Petaluma (near San Francisco) when she was ten and enrolled in acting classes at the American Conservatory Theater. At 13 she had a video audition to the film Desert Bloom (1986), but didn't get the part. Director David Seltzer, however, spotted her and cast her in Lucas (1986). When telephoned to ask how she'd like to have her name appear on the credits, she suggested Ryder as her father's Mitch Ryder album was playing the background. Her first significant role came in 1988 with Beetle Juice as Lydia Deetz, a Goth teenager, in a performance that gained her critical and commercial recognition. After making various appearances in film and television, Ryder continued her career with the cult film Heathers (1989) in a prominent and critically acclaimed performance. Ryder was selected for the part of Mary Corleone in The Godfather: Part III (1990), but had to drop out of the role after catching the flu from the strain of doing the films Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael (1990) and Mermaids (1990) back to back. She said she didn't want to let everyone down by doing a substandard performance. She later made The Age of Innocence (1993) which was directed by Martin Scorsese, who she believes to be "the best director in the world".

Great Balls of Fire! (1989), Edward Scissorhands (1990), Jim Jarmusch's Night on Earth (1991), Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), Woody Allen's Celebrity (1998), Girl, Interrupted (1999)... Her subsequent roles have won her not only critical praise but numerous film awards (Golden Globe, Oscar). In 2000, Ryder received a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California.

Dustin Hoffmann (born August 8, 1937), one of the greatest actors of all-times, "...and particularly, I am a Russian, Romanian Jew. I love herring and vodka; I feel it comes from something in my DNA. I do love these things"


Hoffman began acting at the Pasadena Playhouse with Gene Hackman. After two years at the playhouse, Hackman headed for New York City, and Hoffman soon followed and worked a series of odd jobs. In 1960, Hoffman landed a role in an off-Broadway production and followed with a walk-on role in a Broadway production in 1961. Hoffman then studied at the famed Actors Studio and became a dedicated method actor. Through the early and mid-1960s, Hoffman made appearances in television shows and movies. Dustin's debut was in The Graduate (1967), and he received an Academy Award nomination for his performance. Hoffman's next roles were in Midnight Cowboy (his second Oscar nomination), while the film won the Best Picture honor, Little Big Man, Straw Dogs, Papillon and Lenny in 1974, for which Hoffman received his third nomination for Best Actor in seven years.

Followed remarkable roles in All the President's Men, Marathon Man, Kramer vs. Kramer (his first Academy Award), Tootsie, Death of a Salesman (Emmy, Bafta), Barry Levinson's Rain Man (his second Academy Award). It was in the 1990s that Hoffman starred in Hook, Billy Bathgate, Dick Tracy, American Buffalo, Wag The Dog, Sphere. More recently, Hoffman played in Finding Neverland, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, and many others memorable movies.

Harvey Keitel (born May 13, 1939) the son of Miriam Klein and Harry Keitel, Jewish immigrants from Romania and Poland.


At the end of the 1970s, Keitel was mostly working in European films for directors such as Ridley Scott, usually in sinister character parts. Keitel came to prominence in the early films of Martin Scorsese after working in theatre for around ten years, particularly Mean Streets (1973) and Taxi Driver (1976).

Faded into anonymity in the eighties even though he turned in some impressive performances in films by some of America's leading directors. He re-emergered into star status in Thelma and Louise in 1991, with his role as Mr. White in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992), Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant (1992), The Piano (1993), Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, From Dusk Till Dawn (1997), Cop Land (1997). Later roles were in U-571, National Treasure, Be Cool, The Bridge of San Luis Rey. He won important prizes at major film festivals.

"I don't want people to think that awards amount to the value of an actor. Real success means involvement - to engage oneself totally in something. Unless you become involved, you will stay uninvolved. If money is your god, you will accumulate money, but little else. If you seek out the experience of something... you have a good chance to have a full life".

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