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Character actor Swiss acting icon Bruno Ganz turns 75

He has played an angel (Wings of Desire), Hitler (Downfall), a grandfather more than once (Heidi and Vitus), a vampire (Nosferatu the Vampyre), a waiter (Bread and Tulips) and many, many other characters. Bruno Ganz, Switzerland’s best-known actor, is celebrating his 75th birthday. 

From stage to screen – that, in a nutshell, is Ganz’s career. Ganz was born in Zurich on March 22, 1941. His Swiss father was a mechanic and his mother came from northern Italy. 

He is now one of the most famous German-speaking actors in the world, but despite winning countless awards, he prefers to speak to the public through his performances than through the media. 

In 2012, as Ganz was being given a lifetime achievement award by the European Film Academy, Swiss director Fredi M. Murer summed up to Ganz’s art. 

“In private, he often strikes me as shy and introverted and from the countryside. And then on stage there suddenly appears this ‘grandezza’ [grandness], a certain Italianness.” 

On the set of Vitus, Murer said he found Ganz a very precise and concentrated loner. “I think that when he’s in character, he doesn’t want to be spoken to as Bruno Ganz.” 

(Text: Renat Kuenzi/Images: Ester Unterfinger)

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