Bruno Ganz life and biography

Bruno Ganz picture, image, poster

Bruno Ganz biography

Date of birth : 1941-03-22
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Zürich, Switzerland
Nationality : Swiss
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2010-12-06
Credited as : Actor, films: Wings of Desire, Downfall

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Bruno Ganz is a Swiss actor, known for his roles as Damiel in Wings of Desire and Adolf Hitler in Downfall.

Ganz was born in Zürich to a Swiss mechanic father and a northern Italian mother. He had decided to pursue an acting career by the time he entered university. He was equally drawn to stage and screen but initially enjoyed greater success in the theater.


In 1960, Ganz landed his first film role, in Der Herr mit der schwarzen Melone (The Gentleman in the Black Derby). Despite the support of lead actor Gustav Knuth, his cinematic debut was not particularly successful and it was only many years later that his career in film got off the ground. Ganz made his theatrical debut the following year and devoted himself primarily to the stage for almost two decades thereafter. In 1970, he helped found the Berliner Schaubühne ensemble and two years later performed in the Salzburg Festival premier of Thomas Bernhard's Der Ignorant und der Wahnsinnige, under the direction of Claus Peymann. The German magazine Theater heute (Theater Today) solidified Ganz’s reputation as a stage actor by pronouncing him Schauspieler des Jahres (Actor of the Year) in 1973. One of Ganz's most physically demanding stage portrayals was the title character in Peter Stein’s 2000 production of Goethe's Faust (Parts I and II), as he suffered injuries during rehearsals and his assumption of the role was delayed.

Ganz made his film breakthrough in a major part in the 1976 film Sommergäste, launching a widely recognized film career in both Europe and the U.S. He has worked with directors Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Éric Rohmer, and Francis Ford Coppola, among others. In 1979 he starred opposite Klaus Kinski in Herzog’s Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Nosferatu: Phantom of the Night).

Ganz played a professor opposite Sir Laurence Olivier in the thriller The Boys from Brazil (1978), about Nazi fugitives.

Ganz is probably best known for his role in Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire, as the angel Damiel. He co-starred with Dennis Hopper in Wenders' The American Friend, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel Ripley's Game.

He went on to portray Adolf Hitler in Der Untergang (The Downfall) (2004). Ganz did four months of research on Hitler in preparation for the role.

Ganz recently appeared in The Reader and Der Baader Meinhof Komplex, which were both nominated for the 81st Academy Awards (best picture and best foreign language film).

It has been announced that he will play Italian journalist Tiziano Terzani in an upcoming biopic.

Ganz has also served as a speaker in classical music works, including a recording of Luigi Nono's Il Canto Sospeso with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra .

Ganz' Awards

* 1973 "Actor of the Year" in German magazine Theater heute (Theatre Today)
* 1976 German Film Awards
* 1979 Deutscher Darstellerpreis (Chaplin-Shoe)
* 1991 Hans-Reinhart-Ring, given by The Swiss Society for Theatre Culture
* 1996 Iffland-Ring
* 2000 Swiss Film Awards
* 2000 Ritter der Kunst und Literatur/Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
* 2000 David di Donatello
* 2001 Berliner Filmpreis (Berlin Film Awards)
* 2004 Bavarian Film Awards, Best Actor

Ganz' Filmography

* Der Herr mit der schwarzen Melone (The Man in the Black Derby), 1960
* Chikita, 1961
* Sommergäste (Summer Guests), 1976
* Lumière, 1976
* Die Marquise von O... (The Marquise of O...), 1976
* Die Wildente (Wild Duck), 1976
* Der Amerikanische Freund (The American Friend), 1977
* Die linkshändige Frau (The Left-Handed Woman), 1977
* The Boys from Brazil, 1978
* Messer im Kopf (Knife in the Head), 1978
* Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Nosferatu the Vampyre), 1979
* Retour à la bien-aimée (Return to the Beloved), 1979
* 5% de risques, 1980
* Der Erfinder (The Inventor), 1980
* La Dame aux camélias (The Lady of the Camellias), 1980
* La provinciale (1981)
* Hands Up!, 1981
* Die Fälschung (Circle of Deceit), 1981
* Krieg und Frieden (War and Peace), 1983
* Dans la ville blanche (In the White City, directed by Alain Tanner), 1983
* Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire), 1987
* Strapless, 1989
* Erfolg (Success), 1991
* La Domenica specialmente (Especially on Sunday), 1991
* The Last Days of Chez Nous, 1992
* Brandnacht (Night on Fire), 1992
* Prague, 1992
* In weiter Ferne, so nah! (Faraway, So Close!), 1993
* L'Absence (The Absence), 1994
* Saint-Ex, 1997
* Mia aioniotita kai mia mera (Eternity and a Day) 1998
* Pane e Tulipani (Bread and Tulips), 2000
* Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Faust, 2001 TV
* Epsteins Nacht (Epstein's Night), 2002
* Behind Me - Bruno Ganz, 2002
* Luther, 2003
* The Manchurian Candidate, 2004
* Der Untergang (Downfall), 2004
* Have No Fear: The Life of Pope John Paul II (2005)
* Baruto no Gakuen (Ode an die Freude), 2006
* Vitus, 2007
* Youth Without Youth, 2007
* The Reader, 2008
* Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (The Baader Meinhof Complex), 2008
* Dust of Time (Η Σκόνη του Χρόνου), 2009

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