Bruno Ganz

Active - 1961 - 2020  |   Born - Mar 22, 1941 in Zurich, Switzerland  |   Died - Feb 15, 2019   |   Genres - Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Swiss-born actor Bruno Ganz established himself in Germany, first as co-founder of the Schaubuhne Theatre company, then as a romantic lead in films. International renown came Ganz' way when he was starred in Eric Rohmer's The Marquise of O (1976). Subsequent film roles range from Jonathan Harker in Werner Herzog's 1979 remake of Nosferatu, to misplaced angel Damiel in Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire (1987). Another of his many collaborations with director Wenders was The American Friend (1977), which Ganz regards as one of his favorite films, even though he and co-star Dennis Hopper came to blows during a spirited argument about acting technique.

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  • Wanted to be an actor since childhood, and as a young adult studied at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Zurich.
  • At 19, made his film debut in The Man in the Black Derby (1960).
  • A committed stage performer for decades whose roles included Shakespeare's Hamlet and Goethe's Faust, was also a cofounder of the theater company Berliner Schaubühne in 1970.
  • Won a Donatello Award, Italy's Academy Award equivalent, for Best Actor for Bread and Tulips (2000).
  • Attracted considerable attention—and no small amount of controversy—for playing Adolf Hitler in Downfall (2004), a role he spent four months researching.
  • From 1996 until his death, was in possession of the Iffland-Ring, an honor bestowed upon an estimable thespian of the German-speaking theater that dates to the 19th century.