Bruno Ganz ( [ˈbruːno ˈɡant͡s]; born 22 March 1941) is a Swiss actor who has been a prominent figure in German language film and television for over fifty years. He has collaborated several times with filmmaker Wim Wenders, first as Jonathan Zimmerman in The American Friend (1977) and again as Damiel the Angel in both Wings of Desire (1987) and Faraway, So Close! (1993).
Ganz is internationally renowned for portraying Adolf Hitler in the Academy Award-nominated film Downfall (2004). He has also had roles in several English language films, including The Boys From Brazil (1978), Strapless (1989), The Manchurian Candidate (2004), The Reader (2008), Unknown (2011) and Remember (2015).
On stage, Ganz portrayed Dr. Heinrich Faust in Peter Stein's staging of Faust, Part One and Faust, Part Two in 2000.
Ganz is the current holder of the Iffland-Ring, which is passed from actor to actor as being judged the "most significant and most worthy actor of the German-speaking theatre".
Bruno Ganz was born in Zürich to a Swiss mechanic father and a northern Italian mother. 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 on the stage.
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, Ganz's 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.
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 1977, he co-starred with Dennis Hopper in Wenders's American Friend, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel Ripley's Game. 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.
In 1987, Ganz first played the role of the angel Damiel in Wim Wenders's Wings of Desire. He reprised the role in Wenders' film Faraway, So Close! in 1993.
Ganz portrayed Adolf Hitler in Der Untergang (Downfall) (2004). Ganz did four months of research on Hitler in preparation for the role. His performance, which was widely critically acclaimed, became the basis for a series of "Hitler Rant" parody videos on YouTube. In 2014, popular culture website Watchmojo.com named his performance as the best portrayal of a real-life 'bad guy' of all time, beating out competition from Forest Whitaker and Charlize Theron's Oscar-winning portrayals of Idi Amin and Aileen Wuornos, respectively.
Ganz 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).
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.
Ganz is separated from his wife Sabine, whom he married in 1965; they have a son named Daniel.1973 "Actor of the Year" in German magazine Theater heute (Theatre Today)
1976 German Film Awards in gold for dramatic performances in The Marquise of O
1979 Deutscher Darstellerpreis (Chaplin-Shoe)
1991 Hans-Reinhart-Ring, given by the Swiss Society for Theatre Culture
1998: Officier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France)
1999: Grimme-Preis for Towards the End of the Night
1999: Bremer Filmpreis
2000 Swiss Film Prize
2000: Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France)
2000 David di Donatello Award for Bread and Tulips
2001 Berliner Filmpreis (Berlin Film Awards)
2001: Swiss Film Prize
2004: Bambi for Downfall
2004: SwissAward Division culture
2004: European Film Award
2004: Bavarian Film Awards, Best Actor
2005: Goldener Gong for Downfall
2005: Jupiter Prize for Downfall
2005: Austrian Decoration for Science and Art
2006: Kunstpreis der Stadt Zürich
2006 Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland)
2006: Prize of Honour at the FilmArtFestival Mecklenburg-Pomerania
2007: Knight of the Légion d'honneur (France)
2008: 22nd International FilmFest Braunschweig - European Theatre Prize "Europa"
2010: Star on the Boulevard of the Stars in Berlin
2010: European Film Academy Lifetime Achievement Award
2011: Pardo alla Carriera at Locarno International Film Festival
2013: Actors award at the Festival des deutschen Films, Ludwigshafen
2014: Lifetime Achievement Award, Goldene Kamera
2015: Special Golden Camera 300 for lifetime achievement- Manaki Brothers Film Festival