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Mattes was featured in four films directed by director Rainer Werner Fassbinder (The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, Jail Bait, Effi Briest and In a Year of 13 Moons). In A Man Called Eva (Ein Mann wie EVA, 1984), she played a bearded film director, based on the recently deceased Fassbinder.
She has also appeared in two films of Werner Herzog, a former partner. In 1980 they had a daughter together, Hanna Mattes. Eva Mattes also appeared in Germany, Pale Mother, and in Enemy at the Gates as the mother of Sasha Fillipov.
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