Bruno Ganz

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Bruno Ganz
Bruno Ganz DFF Tokyo 2005.jpg
at German Film Festival in Tokyo, 11 June 2005
Born (1941-03-22) 22 March 1941 (age 73)
Zürich, Switzerland
Years active 1960-present

Bruno Ganz (German pronunciation: [ˈbruːno ˈɡant͡s] ( ); born 22 March 1941) is a Swiss actor, known for his roles as Damiel in Wings of Desire, as Adolf Hitler in Downfall and as Professor Rohl in The Reader.

Early life[edit]

Bruno Ganz was born in Zürich to a Swiss mechanic father and a northern Italian mother.[1][2] 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.[3][4]


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.[5]

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 then became 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.

Ganz is best known for portraying Adolf Hitler in Der Untergang (Downfall) (2004).[6] Ganz did four months of research on Hitler in preparation for the role.[7] His performance achieved its greatest prominence when it became the basis for a series of "Hitler Rant" videos.

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.[8]

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.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Bruno Ganz is separated from his wife Sabine, whom he married in 1965; they have a son called Daniel.[10]


This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.



  1. ^ "Born: 22 March 1941 in Zurich, Switzerland". Retrieved 2011-04-26. 
  2. ^ "Born 1941 to a Swiss worker and his Northern Italian wife". Retrieved 2011-04-26. 
  3. ^ "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". Archived from the original on 2013-01-25. Retrieved 2011-04-26. 
  4. ^ "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 2011-04-26. 
  5. ^ John Rockwell (4 January 2001). "With Pivotal Actor Back, Marathon Faust Gets Another Look". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  6. ^ Rob Mackie (16 September 2005). "Downfall". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  7. ^ Krysia Diver and Stephen Moss (25 March 2005). "Desperately seeking Adolf". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  8. ^ Mara Amorevoli (2009-08-27). "Ganz to play Terzani (in Italian)". La Repubblica. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  9. ^ John Rockwell (24 October 1993). "After Karajan In Berlin, No Deluge Yet". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  10. ^ "Spouse: Sabine Ganz (1965 - present) (separated) 1 child". Retrieved 2011-04-26. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (pdf) (in German). p. 1713. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 

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