Johanna Wokalek

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Johanna Wokalek
Nestroy 2010 (24) Johanna Wokalek-2.jpg
Born (1975-03-03) March 3, 1975 (age 43)
Years active1998-present

Johanna Wokalek (born March 3, 1975) is a German stage and film actress.[1][2] A student of Klaus Maria Brandauer, she received critical recognition and three newcomer awards for her performance in the play Rose Bernd.[3] Wokalek is best known for her award-winning appearances in the German films Hierankl, Barfuss, and The Baader Meinhof Complex.[4] She received the Bambi award for her portrayal of the Red Army Faction member Gudrun Ensslin in 2008.[5] She played the lead role in the film Pope Joan in 2009.

Early life[edit]

Wokalek was born in Freiburg, West Germany, daughter of a professor of dermatology from Mediaş, Romania.[6] She attended the Friedrich-Gymnasium in Freiburg where she first tried acting in the school's drama group in 1991.[7][8][9]

After her final exams in 1994 Wokalek intended to allow herself up to three applications at drama schools before choosing a different career.[7] Her first application to study at the Max-Reinhardt-Seminar in Vienna was accepted,[7][8] and she moved to the Austrian capital in 1995 to begin her four-year study as a student of Klaus Maria Brandauer.[1][9] Brandauer, well known for his parts in Mephisto, Out of Africa and Never Say Never Again, started teaching at the seminar at the same time.[7]


1996–2002: Stage acting and first feature film[edit]

Still in her studies, 21-year-old Wokalek made her professional stage debut during the 1996 Wiener Festwochen in Joshua Sobol's play Alma, directed by Paulus Manker.[3][9][10] Soon after, she played Polly in Brecht's The Threepenny Opera (also directed by Paulus Manker and with costumes by Vivienne Westwood), shown in Vienna's Burgtheater, one of the best-known stage theaters in the world.[10][11]

In 1997, during the third year of her study at the Reinhardt-Seminar, she played the maid Ilse in Max Färberböck's critically acclaimed drama Aimée und Jaguar, her first feature film.[6][9][12] In the fall of 1997 Wokalek accepted her first engagement with the Schauspiel Bonn and stopped attending the seminar.[9][10][12] During the two and a half year engagement she played Leonore in Schiller's Fiesco,[8][10] and received three newcomer awards and wide critical recognition for her performance as Rose in Gerhart Hauptmann's play Rose Bernd.[3][6][9][10] Wokalek also featured in TV versions of the plays Alma (filmed 1997) and Rose Bernd (filmed 1998).[6][9]

In March 2000 she moved back to Vienna and became a permanent member of the Burgtheater ensemble.[6][9][10] In her first performance she played the abused and abandoned Nina in Anton Chekhov's The Seagull,[8][9] directed by Luc Bondy,[13] which was well received.[10][14] Wokalek repeatedly performed at the Salzburg Festival. In 2000 she played Ophelia in Hamlet, as a guest performance with the Staatstheater Stuttgart, and in 2002 she played the leading part in the German language premiere of The Shape of Things.[8][10]

2002–present: Feature films[edit]

In 2002 Wokalek played Lene Thurner in the award-winning family drama Hierankl.[9] The modern Heimatfilm, named after a district in Surberg, Germany, is the film debut of writer and director Hans Steinbichler.[9] Wokalek received several awards and nominations for her first leading part in a feature film,[3][6][8][15] among them the 2003 Bavarian Film Award and the 2006 Adolf Grimme Award,[7][16] which is considered the most important German TV award.[17][18] Wokalek starred in the 2003 TV three-parter Die Kirschenkönigin by Rainer Kaufmann.[8][9][13]

In 2005 Wokalek was cast as the female lead in the romantic comedy Barfuss, directed by Til Schweiger.[6][9][13] The film was a local box office success.[9][19] Her performance as Leila, an escapee from a mental institution, opposite actor-director Til Schweiger brought her wide public recognition.[1][2] She was nominated as best German actress for her performances in Barfuss, Hierankl and Die Kirschenkönigin for the Goldene Kamera award in 2006,[15][20] and received the Shooting Stars Award as best new German actress during the Berlinale in the same year.[3][9]

Wokalek played Anna in the sci-fi thriller Silent Resident, which premiered at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival,[1][2][7] and starred as the young journalist Luise Fellner in Phillip Stölzl's North Face. Wokalek was cast as the Red Army Faction terrorist Gudrun Ensslin in Uli Edel's 2008 film The Baader Meinhof Complex,[2][5] an adaptation of the non-fiction book of the same name by Stefan Aust.[21] Her performance in the film was awarded with a nomination for the 2009 German Film Awards and a Bambi award as best German actress.[5][22] The film was chosen as Germany's submission to the 81st Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, and was also nominated Best Foreign Language Film for the 66th Golden Globe Awards.[23][24][25]

In the summer of 2008 she replaced Franka Potente as Johanna von Ingelheim, the titular role in Sönke Wortmann's Pope Joan.[26] The adaptation of American novelist Donna Woolfolk Cross' book of the same name is the first time Wokalek has to carry a large-scale production by herself.[2][7] Wokalek, who had to tonsure her hair for the role,[27][28][29] stars alongside David Wenham and John Goodman.[26][28] The film was released October 22, 2009.[30][31][32]

As of 2009 Wokalek continues to star in plays in the Burgtheater, including the title role in Andrea Breth's 2003 production of Emilia Galotti,[8][9][13] and Queen Margaret in Shakespeare's The War of the Roses in 2008, directed by Stephan Kimmig.[33][34][35]

On July 28, 2014, Wokalek made her operatic debut (in a speaking role with a small bit of singing) in world premiere of Marc-André Dalbavie's opera Charlotte Salomon given at the Salzburg Festival.

Johanna Wokalek has also appeared in Lars Kraume’s Die kommenden Tage (The Coming Days) and Sherry Hormann’s comedy Anleitung zum Unglücklichsein (The Pursuit of Unhappiness) (2012). In 2017 she took part in Matthias Glasner’s two-part drama for German television, Landgericht, and in Jan Speckenbach’s cinema release, Freedom, which was shown at the Locarno Festival. Landgericht was awarded a Grimme Prize in 2018.

Film and television credits[edit]

Film and television appearances
Year Title Role Notes
1998 Rose Bernd Rose TV adaptation of the play Rose Bernd
1999 Aimée & Jaguar Ilse First feature film
1999 Alma – A Show Biz ans Ende Alma Mahler TV mini-series, adaptation of the play Alma
2003 Emilia Galotti Emilia Galotti TV adaptation of the play Emilia Galotti
2003 Hierankl Lene Thurner
2004 Die Kirschenkönigin Ruth von Roll TV mini-series
2005 Barfuss Leila Lead role opposite Til Schweiger
2007 Silent Resident Anna
2008 North Face Luise Fellner
2008 The Baader Meinhof Complex Gudrun Ensslin Won Bambi award for best German actress
2009 Pope Joan Johanna von Ingelheim Lead role
2010 The Coming Days Cecilia Kuper
2012 The Pursuit of Unhappiness Tiffany Blechschmid Lead role
2017 Landgericht Claire Kornitzer Lead role
2017 Freedom Nora Lead role



  1. ^ a b c d "Deutscher Kinostar mit Wiener Wurzeln" (in German). Die Presse. November 29, 2008. Retrieved December 12, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Zander, Peter (May 15, 2008). "Großer Auftritt: Johanna Wokalek spielt "Die Päpstin"" (in German). Die Welt. Retrieved December 12, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e Stuiber, Petra (February 5, 2006). "Die Furchtlose" (in German). Berliner Morgenpost. Retrieved December 13, 2008.
  4. ^ Heussner, Jana (September 24, 2008). "Vom Protest zum Terror" (in German). Westdeutscher Rundfunk. Archived from the original on June 28, 2009. Retrieved December 14, 2008.
  5. ^ a b c d "Bambi-Verleihung in Offenburg". Aargauer Zeitung. November 27, 2008. Retrieved December 12, 2008.[dead link] (in German)
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "TV-Tipp: Johanna Wokalek in "Die Kirschenkönigin"" (in German). Siebenbürgische Zeitung. November 12, 2004. Retrieved December 12, 2008.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Ritter, Andrea (October 2008). "Johanna Wokalek : Die Kunst der Extreme" (in German). Stern. Retrieved December 12, 2008.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Johanna Wokalek in "Hierankl": Ganz oder gar nicht" (in German). Spiegel Online. Originally published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. November 2, 2003. Retrieved December 12, 2008.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Blaney, Martin. "Actress' Portrait: Johanna Wokalek — At Home On Stage And Screen". German Films Service + Marketing GmbH. Archived from the original on August 13, 2007. Retrieved December 12, 2008.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Muzik, Peter (April 24, 2001). "Erste Titelrolle für Johanna Wokalek" (in German). Wirtschaftsblatt. Retrieved December 13, 2008.
  11. ^ "Burgtheater". Encyclopedia of Austria. Retrieved December 13, 2008.
  12. ^ a b "Das zweite Gesicht" (in German). Hamburger Abendblatt. January 13, 2007. Retrieved December 13, 2008.
  13. ^ a b c d "Außergewöhnliches Regie-Debut von Hans Steinbichler mit herausragenden Darstellern" (in German). Arte. March 31, 2005. Retrieved December 13, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Dibdin, Thom (August 30, 2001). "Review Chekhov's love story must be checked out". Evening News — Scotland. Retrieved December 13, 2008.
  15. ^ a b "DIE GOLDENE KAMERA von HÖRZU 2006: Marie Bäumer, Barbara Rudnik und Johanna Wokalek sind die Nominierten in der Kategorie "Beste deutsche Schauspielerin"" (in German). January 4, 2006. Retrieved December 14, 2008.
  16. ^ a b "Schauspielerin aus "Barfuss" über Liebe und Leidenschaft: Johanna Wokalek: Bis ans Ende der Welt" (in German). RP Online. March 30, 2005. Retrieved December 12, 2008.
  17. ^ "ZDF erhält acht von zwölf Grimme-Preisen" (in German). Die Welt. March 19, 2008. Retrieved December 14, 2008.
  18. ^ "Sommermärchen doch noch nominiert" (in German). Spiegel Online. February 6, 2007. Retrieved December 14, 2008.
  19. ^ a b "Johanna Wokalek ist deutscher Shooting Star 2006" (in German). December 7, 2005. Retrieved December 12, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ "Bäumer, Rudnik und Wokalek für die Goldene Kamera nominiert" (in German). Berliner Morgenpost. January 5, 2006. Retrieved December 14, 2008.
  21. ^ Woldt, Marco (November 17, 2008). "German filmmakers tackle nation's dark past". CNN. Retrieved December 14, 2008.
  22. ^ a b "Deutscher Filmpreis: Die Nominierungen im Überblick" (in German). Die Welt. March 13, 2009. Retrieved March 13, 2009.
  23. ^ ""Baader Meinhof Komplex" für Golden Globe nominiert" (in German). Spiegel Online. December 11, 2008. Retrieved December 14, 2008.
  24. ^ Kaufmann, Nicole (December 11, 2008). "The Baader Meinhof Complex to represent Germany in the race for the Academy Award". German Films. Archived from the original on October 30, 2010. Retrieved December 14, 2008.
  25. ^ "2008 GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS NOMINATIONS FOR THE YEAR ENDED". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. December 11, 2008. Archived from the original on November 7, 2010. Retrieved December 14, 2008.
  26. ^ a b "John Goodman back in "Pope Joan" after lawsuit". Vancouver Sun. July 30, 2008. Archived from the original on July 27, 2009. Retrieved December 14, 2008.
  27. ^ "Blitzlichter am Burggraben" (in German). August 10, 2008. Retrieved December 14, 2008.
  28. ^ a b "Film: Johanna Wokalek lässt Haare für "Die Päpstin"" (in German). Die Zeit. August 9, 2008. Retrieved December 14, 2008.
  29. ^ "Johanna Wokalek lässt Haare für "Die Päpstin"" (in German). Tagesspiegel. August 9, 2008. Retrieved December 14, 2008.
  30. ^ Roxborough, Scott (October 26, 2009). "'Pope Joan' heads strong local German b.o." The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 20, 2009.
  31. ^ Vadeboncoeur, Joan (November 19, 2009). "Syracuse author sees her book "Pope Joan" become a film". Retrieved November 20, 2009.
  32. ^ "Vatikan-Intrigen und Teufelskinder" (in German). Focus. October 22, 2009. Retrieved November 20, 2009.
  33. ^ Schneeberger, Peter (May 29, 2008). "Die Rosenkriege – Stephan Kimmig lässt sieben Stunden lang Heinrich IV. und Richard III. spielen" (in German). Nachtkritik. Retrieved December 13, 2008.
  34. ^ Weinzierl, Ulrich (June 3, 2008). "Shakespeares "Rosenkriege" in Wien" (in German). Die Welt. Retrieved December 13, 2008.
  35. ^ "Sieben Stunden Shakespeare im Burgtheater" (in German). Augsburger Allgemeine. May 30, 2008. Retrieved December 13, 2008.
  36. ^ "Förderpreis Deutscher Film für Steinbichler" (in German). NZ Netzeitung GmbH. July 4, 2003. Retrieved December 12, 2008.
  37. ^ "Bayerischer Filmpreis" (in German). Film-Dienst. February 1, 2004. Retrieved December 12, 2008.
  38. ^ "Preisträger 2006" (in German). Adolf-Grimme-Institut. Archived from the original on May 31, 2014. Retrieved December 12, 2008.
  39. ^ Jänichen, Barbara (January 28, 2009). "Johanna Wokalek zur Nummer eins gekürt". Berliner Morgenpost. Retrieved February 22, 2009.

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