Best German Actors past & present

In no specific order! Frequently updated. Make a suggestion!
This list is my point of view and my measurement is acting quality and not success or level of fame.
If you haven't heard of some names, it is because they are probably totally unknown outside Germany.
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1.
Maximilian Schell
Maximilian Schell was the most successful German-speaking actor in English-language films since Emil Jannings, the winner of the first Best Actor Academy Award. Like Jannings, Schell won the Oscar, but unlike him, he was a dedicated anti-Nazi. Indeed, with the exception of Maurice Chevalier and Marcello Mastroianni...
“ Is Austrian. ” - comm-12
 
2.
Hans Albers
Life companion was the actress Hansi Burg. Their relationship started in 1925. They separated in 1935 due to the pressure of the German Nazi government. In 1938 she went into exile in Switzerland (later London). Shortly after this she married the Norwegian Erich Blydt. Burg returned to Germany and Albers in 1946. They lived together until his death 1960. She died 15 years later.
 
3.
Horst Buchholz
On the cast list of The Magnificent Seven, you will find several names that doubtless you know well: Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen, and Yul Brynner. But there is one name that you will have difficulty pronouncing, let alone identifying as an actor you have seen before. That man is Horst Buchholz,...
 
5.
Christoph Waltz
Christoph Waltz is an Austrian-German actor. He is best known for his works with American filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, receiving acclaim for portraying SS-Standartenführer Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds (2009) and bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained (2012). For each performance, he won an Academy Award...
“ Is Austrian. ” - comm-12
 
6.
Manfred Krug
In 1950, Krug moved to East Germany where he worked in heavy industry before he started his career as an actor and, later on, as a singer and entertainer in the communist GDR. In 1968, he got the national prize and was only at the beginning of his career. He starred in many successful East German films until he applied for expatriation in 1977...
 
7.
Curd Jürgens
Curd Jürgens (commonly billed as "Curt Jurgens" in anglophone countries) was one of the most successful European film actors of the 20th Century. He was born Curd Gustav Andreas Gottlieb Franz Jürgens on December 13, 1915, in Solln, Bavaria, in Hohenzollern Imperial Germany, a subject of Kaiser Wilhelm II...
 
8.
Daniel Brühl
Daniel Brühl was born in Barcelona, Spain. His father was German TV director Hanno Brühl (1937-2010), who was born in São Paulo, Brazil. His Spanish mother was a teacher. He also has a brother and a sister, Oliver and Miriam. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Cologne, Germany, where he grew up and attended the Dreikönigsgymnasium...
 
10.
Senta Berger
Senta Berger was born in 1941 in Vienna, Austria to her father Josef Berger who was a musician and her mother Therese Berger, a school teacher. Senta and her father performed together when she was just four years old. She sang and her dad played the piano. At five years old, she took ballet lessons and at 14...
 
12.
Götz George
Actor, Tatort
Götz George, born in Berlin in 1938, is the son of the famous actor Heinrich George and his wife, the actress Berta Drews. After first appearances on the stage of Berlin's Hebbel Theater during his childhood, Götz George was trained as an actor by the recognized teacher Else Bongers. At the age of 15...
 
13.
Jürgen Prochnow
Actor, Das Boot
Born in Berlin, Germany, in 1941, Jürgen Prochnow is a leading actor of the German stage and screen. He was memorable as the submarine captain in the gritty WW II film Das Boot, which brought him to international prominence. He has since starred in many well-received European and Hollywood productions.
 
21.
Hanna Schygulla
Lead icon of the influential New German Cinema of the 70's & 80's, Schygulla's natural blonde beauty and amazing versatility keep her among the world's top actresses. She won best actress at Cannes in 1983 for The Story of Piera (aka "The Story of Piera"), an Italian/German co-production. The Turkish/German co-production...
 
22.
Lilli Palmer
A charming, elegant, and exceedingly popular international film star with a gentle, understated beauty, actress Lilli Palmer was born as Lilli Marie Peiser on May 24, 1914, in Posen, Prussia. She was the daughter of Rose Lissman, an Austrian Jewish actress, and Alfred Peiser, a German Jewish surgeon...
 
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25.
Mario Adorf
Mario Adorf, a tell-tale name indeed. Mario calls to mind the actor's Italian roots (his father was a Calabrian surgeon) whereas Adorf reveals his German origins (his mother was a radiologist from German-speaking Alsace). As for the full name Mario Adorf it echoes to perfection the international character of this living legend's long career...
 
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27.
Hardy Krüger
At thirteen years, German-born and raised Hardy Kruger became a member of the "Hitler Jugend" (Hitler Youth), as did all 13-year-old boys in Germany then. The purpose of the organization was to prepare the boys for military service. At age 15, Hardy made his film debut in a German picture (Junge Adler)...
 
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30.
Klaus Kinski
Klaus Kinski was born Klaus Günter Karl Nakszynski in Zoppot, Free City of Danzig (now Sopot, Poland), to Susanne (Lutze), a nurse, and Bruno Nakszynski, a pharmacist. He grew up in Berlin, was drafted into the German army in 1944 and captured by British forces in Holland. After the war he began acting on the stage...
 
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32.
Udo Kier
Actor, Blade
Udo Kier was born October 14, 1944 in Cologne, Germany, during World War II. His entrance was just as dramatic as some of his roles. On the evening of his birth Udo's mother requested extra time with her new baby. The nurses had gathered all of the other babies and returned them to the nursery when the hospital was bombed...