His strong facial features made him a favourite villain of French cinema for exotic adventure films and crime movies.
He studied at the Polytechnical Institute of Saint Petersburg and was for a time one of the resident actors of an imperial theater of this city. At the beginning of his career in Russia, he appeared first as stuntman in a few movies and then as director and as actor. His major lead role during the Russian part of his career is The Son in Storm Over Asia by Vsevolod Pudovkin in 1928, a major historic movie about civil war in Mongolia.
Later, he emigrated to Germany and then France, where he frequently played the part of Asian villains. His most active period was in the thirties, when he appeared in Les bateliers de la Volga and the G. W. Pabst film Le drame de Shanghai. He played for Fritz Lang in 1959, in Der Tiger von Eschnapur and its sequel Das indische Grabmal, in which he played the role of the high priest Yama. In 1965, Philippe de Broca cast him as Monsieur Goh, the wise but scary Chinese who guarantees to the Jean-Paul Belmondo character a certain death in Les tribulations d'un Chinois en Chine.
- Storm Over Asia (1928, directed by Vsevolod Pudovkin)
- Typhoon (1933, directed by Robert Wiene)
- The Battle (1934, directed by Nicolas Farkas)
- Amok (1934, directed by Fedor Ozep)
- Friesennot (1935, directed by Peter Hagen)
- The Wife of General Ling (1937, directed by Ladislao Vajda)
- The Shanghai Drama (1938, directed by G. W. Pabst)
- The Black Rose (1950, directed by Henry Hathaway)
- Beloved Corinna (1956, directed by Eduard von Borsody)
- The Doctor of Stalingrad (1958, directed by Géza von Radványi)
- The Tiger of Eschnapur (1959, directed by Fritz Lang)
- The Indian Tomb (1959, directed by Fritz Lang)
- Maciste alla corte del Gran Khan (1961, directed by Riccardo Freda)
- Nick Carter va tout casser (1964, directed by Henri Decoin)
- Up to His Ears (1965, directed by Philippe de Broca)
- Atout coeur à Tokyo pour OSS 117 (1966, directed by Michel Boisrond)
- The Last Adventure (1967, directed by Robert Enrico)
- The Legend of Frenchie King (1971, directed by Christian-Jaque)