Bruno Ganz, the Swiss actor who infamously played both the angel Damien in 1987’s Wings of Desire and Adolf Hitler in 2004’s Downfall, died at his home in Zurich, Switzerland. He was 77.
According to The New York Times, Ganz had been diagnosed with colon cancer last summer. At the time, he was working at the prominent Salzburg Festival in Austria.
Born March 22nd, 1941 to a working class family, Ganz entered the university with the intention to pursue acting, and became a master of both the stage and the screen.
For theater, he helped found the Berliner Schaubühne ensemble and received numerous decorations for his torturous performances, among them being named “Actor of the Year” in German magazine, Theater heute.
In tandem to theater, Ganz also amassed an exhaustive film resume, having worked with numerous New German Cinema filmmakers such as Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders, in addition to international eyes like Éric Rohmer and Francis Ford Coppola.
Among his major highlights, outside of his iconic turns in both Wings of Desire and Downfall, include co-starring with Dennis Hopper in Wenders’ American Friend, starring opposite Klaus Kinski in Herzog’s Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht, and more recently playing Virgil in Lars von Trier’s incredible The House That Jack Built.
In a statement, Berlin Film Festival director Dieter Kosslick called Ganz “one of the greatest and most versatile actors ‘who inspired generations of film fans. We are incredibly saddened by the loss of a long-standing festival companion and outstanding figure of the international film history.”
Ganz is survived by his son Daniel.