Bruno Ganz (German: [ˈbruːno ˈɡant͡s] (listen); 22 March 1941 – 16 February 2019[a]) was a Swiss actor whose career in German-language film and television productions lasted for more than fifty years. He was known for his collaborations with the directors Werner Herzog, Éric Rohmer, Francis Ford Coppola, and Wim Wenders, earning widespread recognition with his roles as Jonathan Zimmerman in The American Friend (1977), Jonathan Harker in Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) and Damiel the Angel in Wings of Desire (1987).
Ganz in 2011
|Born||22 March 1941|
|Died||16 February 2019 (aged 77)|
|Spouse(s)||Sabine Ganz (m. 1965, separated)|
Ganz received international acclaim for his portrayal of Adolf Hitler in the Oscar-nominated film Downfall (2004), a scene from which became a popular internet meme. He also had roles in several English-language films, including The Boys from Brazil (1978), Strapless (1989), The Manchurian Candidate (2004), The Reader (2008), Unknown (2011) and Remember (2015). On stage, Ganz portrayed Dr. Heinrich Faust in Peter Stein's staging of Faust, Part One and Faust, Part Two in 2000.
From 1996 until his death in 2019, Ganz held the Republic of Austria's Iffland-Ring, which passes from actor to actor — each bequeathing the ring to the next holder, judging that actor to be the "most significant and most worthy actor of the German-speaking theatre". Ganz was also honored with the Order of Merit of Germany and was made a knight of the French Légion d'honneur.
Ganz was born in Zürich to a Swiss factory worker 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 on the stage.
Ganz made his theatrical debut in 1961 and devoted himself mainly to the stage for almost the next two decades. In 1970, he helped found the Berliner Schaubühne ensemble and two years later performed in the Salzburg Festival premiere of Thomas Bernhard's Der Ignorant und der Wahnsinnige, under the direction of Claus Peymann.
The German magazine Theater heute 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); he suffered injuries during rehearsals which delayed him starting in the role. He also served as a speaker in classical music works, including a 1993 recording of Luigi Nono's Il canto sospeso with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 1960 Ganz landed his first film role, in Der Herr mit der schwarzen Melone (The Man in the Black Derby). Despite the support of lead actor Gustav Knuth, Ganz's 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 film breakthrough in a major part in the 1976 film Sommergäste, launching a widely recognized film career in Europe and the United States. He worked with several directors of the New German Cinema like Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders, and also with international directors like Éric Rohmer and Francis Ford Coppola, among others. In 1977, he co-starred with Dennis Hopper in Wenders' American Friend, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel Ripley's Game, playing a terminally ill father who gets hired as a professional killer. 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.
In 1987 Ganz first played the role of the angel Damiel in Wim Wenders's Wings of Desire. He reprised the role in Faraway, So Close! in 1993. Ganz appeared in The Reader as a Holocaust survivor and as police officer Horst Herold in The Baader Meinhof Complex, which were both nominated for the 81st Academy Awards (Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film respectively). In 2011, he appeared as a former Stasi operator opposite Liam Neeson in Unknown. Among Ganz's later roles were the Grandfather in the literary adaptation Heidi (2015), a pseudo-scientific healer in Sally Potter's The Party (2017) and a Vergil-like figure in Lars von Trier's The House that Jack Built (2018).
Ganz portrayed Adolf Hitler in Der Untergang (Downfall) (2004). after four months of researching the role. His performance was widely acclaimed by critics; The Guardian critic Rob Mackie described Ganz as “the most convincing screen Hitler yet: an old, bent, sick dictator with the shaking hands of someone with Parkinson's, alternating between rage and despair in his last days in the bunker”. His performance inspired many parodies on YouTube, using video and audio from the film with humorous subtitles. In 2014, popular culture website WatchMojo.com named his performance as the best portrayal of a real-life 'bad guy' of all time, beating competition from Oscar-winning portrayals of Idi Amin by Forest Whitaker, and serial murderer Aileen Wuornos by Charlize Theron.
Ganz died on 16 February 2019 at the age of 77.
Awards and honors
- 1973: "Actor of the Year" in German magazine Theater heute
- 1991: Hans-Reinhart-Ring, given by the Swiss Society for Theatre Culture
- 1996: Iffland-Ring
- 1998: Officier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France)
- 2000: Swiss Film Prize
- 2000: David di Donatello Award for Bread and Tulips
- 2004: European Film Award
- 2005: Austrian Decoration for Science and Art
- 2006: Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland)
- 2010: Star on the Boulevard of the Stars in Berlin
- 2011: Pardo alla Carriera at Locarno International Film Festival
- 2012: Asteroid 199900 Brunoganz, discovered by Silvano Casulli in 2007, was named in his honor
- 2014: Lifetime Achievement Award, Goldene Kamera
- 2015: Special Golden Camera 300 for lifetime achievement- Manaki Brothers Film Festival 
Ganz appeared in the following films:
- The Man in the Black Derby (1960) as Hotelpage
- Es Dach überem Chopf (1962) as Fred Weber
- Chikita (1964)
- The Smooth Career (1967) as Barnhard Kral
- Sommergäste (Summer Guests) (1976) as Jakov Shalimov
- Lumière (1976) as Heinrich Grün
- The Marquise of O... (1976) as Der Graf
- Die Wildente (The Wild Duck) (1976) as Gregers
- Der Amerikanische Freund (The American Friend) (1977) as Jonathan Zimmermann
- Die linkshändige Frau (The Left-Handed Woman) (1978) as Bruno
- Schwarz und weiß wie Tage und Nächte (1978) as Thomas Rosemund
- The Boys from Brazil (1978) as Professor Bruckner
- Messer im Kopf (Knife in the Head) (1978) as Hoffmann
- Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Nosferatu the Vampyre) (1979) as Jonathan Harker
- Retour à la bien-aimée (Return to the Beloved) (1979) as Dr. Stephan Kern
- Oggetti smarriti (Lost and Found / Lost Objects / An Italian Woman) (1980) as Werner
- 5% de risque (1980) as David
- La provinciale (1981) as Remy
- Etwas wird sichtbar (1981)
- La Dame aux camélias (The Lady of the Camellias) (1980) as Count Perregaux
- Hands Up! (1981)
- Die Fälschung (Circle of Deceit) (1981) as Georg Laschen
- Der Erfinder (The Inventor) (1981) as Jakob Nüssli
- Logik des Gefühls (1982)
- Polenta (1982) as Jules, le narrateur
- Krieg und Frieden (War and Peace) (1982)
- Dans la ville blanche (In the White City) (1983) as Paul
- System ohne Schatten (1983) as Faber
- De ijssalon (Private Resistance) (1985) as Gustav
- Killer aus Florida (Killer from Florida) (1983)
- El río de oro (1986) as Peter
- Väter und Söhne – Eine deutsche Tragödie (1986) (TV miniseries) as Heinrich Beck
- Der Pendler (1986)
- Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire) (1987) as Damiel
- Un amore di donna (1988) as Franco Bassani
- Bankomatt (1989) as Bruno
- Strapless (1989) as Raymond Forbes
- The Legendary Life of Ernest Hemingway (1989) as Ezra Pound
- Tassilo (1991) (TV series) as Tassilo
- Erfolg (Success) (1991) as Engill
- La Domenica specialmente (Especially on Sunday) (1991) as Vittorio (segment "La domenica specialmente")
- Prague (1992) as Josef
- L'Absence (The Absence) (1992) as Player
- The Last Days of Chez Nous (1992) as J.P.
- In weiter Ferne, so nah! (Faraway, So Close!) (1993) as Damiel
- Brandnacht (Night on Fire) (1992) as Peter Keller
- Heller Tag (1994) as Georg
- Diario senza date (1995)
- Saint-Ex (1997) as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- Mia aioniotita kai mia mera (Eternity and a Day) (1998) as Alexandros
- You Can't Go Home Again (1999) as Narrator (voice)
- WerAngstWolf (2000)
- Pane e Tulipani (Bread and Tulips) (2000) as Fernando Girasole
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Faust (2001, TV) as Faust
- La forza del passato (The Power of the Past) (2002) as Bogliasco
- Epsteins Nacht (Epstein's Night) (2002) as Adam Rose
- Behind Me – Bruno Ganz (2002) as Himself
- Luther (2003) as Johann von Staupitz
- The Manchurian Candidate (2004) as Delp
- Der Untergang (Downfall) (2004) as Adolf Hitler
- Have No Fear: The Life of Pope John Paul II (2005) as Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski
- Vitus (2006) as Grandfather
- Baruto no Gakuen (バルトの楽園; Ode an die Freude) (2006) as Kurt Heinrich
- Youth Without Youth (2007) as Prof. Roman Stanciulescu
- Stairway to Nowhere (2008) as Brot Darsteller
- Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (The Baader Meinhof Complex) (2008) as Horst Herold
- Η Σκόνη του Χρόνου (The Dust of Time) (2008) as Jacob
- The Reader (2008) as Professor Rohl
- Giulias Verschwinden (2009) as John
- Der grosse Kater (2010) as Kater
- Taxiphone: El Mektoub (2010)
- Satte Farben vor Schwarz (Colours in the Dark) (2010) as Fred
- Das Ende ist mein Anfang (The End Is My Beginning) (2010) as Tiziano Terzani
- Unknown (2011) as Ernst Jürgen
- Sport de filles (2011) as Franz Mann
- Night Train to Lisbon (2013) as Older Jorge O'Kelly
- Michael Kohlhaas (2013) as The Governor
- The Counselor (2013) as Diamond Dealer
- In Order of Disappearance (2014) as Papa
- Amnesia (2015) as Bruno – le grand-père de Jo
- Remember (2015) as Rudy Kurlander #1
- Heidi (2015) as Alpöhi
- Un Juif pour l'exemple (2016) as Arthur Bloch
- The Party (2017) as Gottfried
- In Times of Fading Light (2017) as Wilhelm Powileit
- Fortuna (2018)
- The House That Jack Built (2018) as Verge
- Der Trafikant (2018) as Sigmund Freud
- The Witness (2018) as Nikola Radin
- Radegund (upcoming)
- The date of death is disputed. BBC and NYT claim night of the 15th; Süddeutsche Zeitung and Tagesanzeiger claim early hours of the 16th; Deutsche Welle claims overnight to the 16th; Agence France-Presse claims during the night from the 15th to 16th; Blick claims the 16th around 2 am. It is possible that this is confounded by time zones, as Switzerland is an hour ahead of GMT. Also there are different informations in the media where he died. Most media reports say Zurich, other say Au in Wädenswil.
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- Anita Gates. "Bruno Ganz, Who Played an Angel and Hitler, Is Dead at 77". New York Times. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
- "Downfall star Bruno Ganz dies following battle with colon cancer". Retrieved 18 February 2019.
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- "Born: 22 March 1941 in Zurich, Switzerland". Retrieved 26 April 2011.
- "Born 1941 to a Swiss worker and his Northern Italian wife". Archived from the original on 24 May 2011. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
- "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". Retrieved 26 April 2011.
- "he got his first film role with 19... ...but his absolute break through he has with in a play by Peter Zadek in Bremen". Retrieved 26 April 2011.
- Bernhard Doppler (14 August 2016). "Thomas Bernhards „Ignorant" bei den Salzburger Festspielen / Große Schauspielkunst im ehemaligen Skandalstück". Deutschlandfunk (in German). Retrieved 16 February 2019.
- "German Films: News Releases". www.german-films.de. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
- John Rockwell (4 January 2001). "With Pivotal Actor Back, Marathon Faust Gets Another Look". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 February 2009.
- John Rockwell (24 October 1993). "After Karajan In Berlin, No Deluge Yet". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 February 2009.
- "Luigi Nono: Il canto sospeso; Gustav Mahler: Kindertotenlieder - Claudio Abbado - Release Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
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- Bradshaw, Peter. "Bruno Ganz: always poetic and inspired, from Hitler's bunker rant to a Berlin angel". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
- Krysia Diver and Stephen Moss (25 March 2005). "Desperately seeking Adolf". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 February 2009.
- Ruth Quinn and Vanessa Thorpe (16 February 2019). "Bruno Ganz, actor who played Hitler in Downfall, dies aged 77". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
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- "Top 10 Movie Portrayals of Real Life Bad Guys". WatchMojo.
- www.20min.ch, www 20minuten ch, 20 Minuten, 20 Min. "Die Welt verneigt sich vor Bruno Ganz". 20 Minuten.
- "Spouse: Sabine Ganz (1965 – present) (separated) 1 child". Retrieved 26 April 2011.
- "Bruno Ganz leidet an Krebs (German)". Retrieved 2 August 2018.
- Michel Imhof: Daniel Rohr erlebte die letzten Minuten der Schauspiellegende: «Bruno Ganz starb im Beisein seiner Partnerin und seines Sohnes» In: Blick, 16 February 2019.
- "L'acteur Bruno Ganz est décédé à l'âge de 77 ans". www.programme-tv.net (in French). 2019-02-16. Retrieved 2019-02-16.
- "Reply to a parliamentary question" (pdf) (in German). p. 1713. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
- SK (2019-02-16). "Zürich: Bruno Ganz im Alter von 77 Jahren gestorben – Schauspieler erlag einem Krebsleiden". SÜDKURIER Online (in German). Retrieved 2019-02-16.
- "Stars | Boulevard der Stars". boulevard-der-stars-berlin.de (in German). Retrieved 2019-02-16.
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- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 September 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Bruno Ganz". Film Portal. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
- Un Juif pour l'exemple on IMDb