According to Tarantino, getting the “Reservoir Dogs” script to Harvey Keitel was a classic “I know a guy who knows a guy” situation. The movie’s producer, Lawrence Bender, was almost as green as the director, but he had an acting teacher whose wife knew Keitel. He passed the script to the teacher, who passed it to his wife, who finally gave it to Keitel. Impressed by the writing, Keitel agreed to appear in the film.
Tarantino remembers (via The Guardian):
“The next thing we knew, Harvey was leaving a message saying, ‘I read the script, I love it, I’d even love to produce it to get it going. Give me a call back.’ It was an amazing experience and I think we danced around. That was the beginning of the beginning.”
With Keitel’s help fundraising, the movie was able to amass a budget of $1.5 million. Keitel also financed a casting session in New York City, where Tarantino recruited Buscemi, Madsen, and Roth. If Keitel had said no, “Reservoir Dogs” wouldn’t be close to the picture it ended up being.