Merab Ninidze

Merab Ninidze (Georgian: მერაბ ნინიძე; born 3 November 1965) is a Georgian actor. In the English-speaking world, he is best known for the roles of Walter Redlich in Nowhere in Africa and Oleg Penkovsky in The Courier.

Merab Ninidze
Crossing Europe 2018 - Merab Ninidze - 1977.jpg
Ninidze at Crossing Europe 2018
Born (1965-11-03) 3 November 1965 (age 57)
Years active1984-present


Early careerEdit

Merab Ninidze was born on 3 November 1965 in Tbilisi, Georgian SSR, USSR. He grew up in an artistic family. His grandmother, Zeinab Ghoghoberidze, was a music teacher and introduced him to music, and he then went on to study classical music for seven years. His grandfather, Sergo Akhaladze, was a theatre director, and Ninidze was involved in theatre from a very young age. From 1972 to 1982 he attended Tbilisi Classical Gymnasium.

At the age of thirteen, Ninidze auditioned for the part of Prince Edward in Shakespeare's Richard III at Rustaveli State Academic Theater in Tbilisi, which was directed by Robert Sturua and premiered in 1979. The production had great success, touring the UK three times, taking part in Edinburgh Festival, Glasgow Mayfest and The Roundhouse in London. From 1982 to 1985 he studied acting at the Shota Rustaveli Theater and Georgia State Film University under the tutelage of Gizo Jordania, which led to him becoming a full-time member of the Shota Rustaveli Theatre Company. Also, he had successful collaborations in many of Jordania's later productions, such as The Diary of Anne Frank in 1989, David Kldiashvili’s Step-Mother in 1989 (which toured the UK in 1989–1990) and Hamlet in 1992. After Hamlet premiered in 1992, Civil War broke out in Georgia leading to his emigration, and he only returned to the theater's stage playing Shylock in The Merchant of Venice in 2003 (dir. Levan Tsuladze). He also took part in Georg Büchner’s Leonce and Lena (dir. Nana Kvaskhvadze) in 1991.

Ninidze's first film role was in Tengiz Abuladze’s 1984 film Repentance, which won three prizes at the 40th Cannes Film Festival, including the Grand Prize of the Jury. Since then he has appeared in films by many Georgian directors. As the Civil War broke out in Georgia, he was offered the opportunity to work with Austrian director Goran Rebic. He spent several months in Vienna playing a Serbian war survivor in Rebic’s film Yugofilm, which subsequently led to his emigration at the age of 25.

Later careerEdit

For the last 20 years, Ninidze has been actively portraying characters in English, Russian, and German language films and TV series. He has appeared in numerous German films by various directors. Nowhere in Africa (dir. Caroline Link), with Ninidze as lead, was awarded an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2002. Ninidze has received several European and Russian film prizes, and films in which he has participated are shown regularly at major film festivals. Throughout his career, he has also been active in Russian cinema and TV, landing major roles in Aleksei German’s Paper Soldier and Under Electric Clouds, Bakhtyar Khudojnazarov’s Luna Papa, and others. His recent credits in TV series include Berlin Station in 2015, BBC’s McMafia in 2018 (dir. by James Watkins), and Homeland (2018). In 2017 he attended the Berlinale Film Festival for two of his most recent Georgian films – Hostages (dir. Rezo Gigineishvili) and My Happy Family (dir. Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross), which also won prizes in various film festivals around the world. In May 2017, theatre and film director Kornel Mundruczo’s film Jupiter’s Moon was shown in the main competition at Cannes Film Festival. In September 2017, Ninidze won the Best Actor award at the Batumi International Film Festival for his role in Jupiter’s Moon.

Personal lifeEdit

Ninidze's autobiographical novel Everywhere, even in Africa was published in 2015.[citation needed]


Year Title Role Notes
1984 Repentance Tornike
1985 Sapekhuri
1985 Ert patara qalaqshi
1987 Oromtriali
1987 Pesvebi
1989 Miakhloeba
1991 O, ra tkbilia ganshorebis es nazi sevda
1994 The Quality of Mercy Nikolai
1994 Gza Chalaurisaken
1995 Halbe Welt Schwätzer
1997 Jugofilm Sasha
1997 Die Schuld der Liebe Unbekannter Mann
1998 Suzie Washington Resa Madani
1998 In Heaven Levi
1999 Luna Papa Alik
2000 England! Pavel
2001 Bride of the Wind Russian Soldier
2001 Ene mene muh - und tot bist du
2001 Nowhere in Africa Walter Redlich
2002 Ikarus Milan
2004 Cattolica Martin
2008 The Rainbowmaker Datho
2008 Paper Soldier Doctor Daniil Pokrovsky Nominated – Nika Award for Best Actor
Nominated – White Elephant Award for Best Actor
2008 Mediator Hitman
2010 Der Kameramörder Thomas
2011 Wintertochter Alexej
2011 Mein bester Feind Moritz Haiden
2011 Four Days in May Major
2012 The Fourth State Sagalayev
2012 Invasion Konstantin
2012 Lyubov s aktsentom
2014 Ch/B Nurik
2015 Die blauen Stunden Der Maler
2015 Under Electric Clouds Nikolai
2015 Sindrom Petrushki Boris
2015 Deutschland 83 Alexei Stepanov 4 episodes
2015 Bridge of Spies Soviet Main Interrogator
2016 Lou Andreas-Salomé, The Audacity to be Free [de] Friedrich Carl Andreas
2016 Berlin Station Aleksandre Iosava 5 episodes
2017 My Happy Family Soso
2017 Hostages Levan
2017 Jupiter's Moon Gábor Stern
2018 McMafia Vadim Kalyagin 8 episodes
2018 Homeland Sergei Mirov Season 7, episodes 9, 11, 12
2019 Russian Whispers Viktor
2019 Treadstone Yuri Leniov (Present Day) 3 episodes
2020 Freud Josef Breuer 2 episodes
2020 The Courier Oleg Penkovsky Nominated – BIFA Award for Best Supporting Actor
2021 Without Remorse Andre Vaseliev
2021 House Arrest


External linksEdit