Top 100 German Actors

The list also includes Austrian, Dutch, German-Swiss and Flemish actors.
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1.
Conrad Veidt
Actor, Casablanca
Conrad Veidt attended the Sophiengymnasium (secondary school) in the Schoeneberg district of Berlin, and graduated without a diploma in 1912, last in his class of 13. Conrad liked animals, theater, cinema, fast cars, pastries, thunderstorms, gardening, swimming and golfing. He disliked heights, flying...
 
3.
Erich von Stroheim
Erich von Stroheim was born Erich Oswald Stroheim in 1885, in Vienna, Austria, to Johanna (Bondy), from Prague, and Benno Stroheim, a hatmaker from Gliwice, Poland. His family was Jewish. After spending some time working in his father's hat factory, he emigrated to America around 1909. Working in various jobs he arrived in Hollywood in 1914 and got work in D.W...
 
4.
Rudolf Klein-Rogge
Actor, Metropolis
During the heyday of German silent cinema, Rudolf Klein-Rogge was the prototype for the master criminal, the irredeemable arch villain or mad scientist. Born in Cologne, he served as a cadet in a Prussian military academy before finishing his matriculation. He then began to attend acting classes and studying art history in Berlin and Bonn...
 
10.
Alfred Abel
Actor, Metropolis
This elegant actor of the golden age of German cinema appeared in several masterpieces, before the cameras of such inspired geniuses as Lang, Lubitsch and Murnau. Vocation had come rather late in his life, though. Abel was indeed already 33 when he made his first film. Beforehand, he had been a forester...
 
11.
Fritz Rasp
Actor, Metropolis
Fritz Heinrich Rasp was the thirteenth child of a county surveyor. He was schooled from 1908-1909 at the Theaterschule Otto Königin in Munich where, due to a speech impediment, Rasp developed a Frankish dialect. Rasp debuted on the stage in 1909, as Amandus in Max Halbe's "Skandalstück Jugend" as the Münchner Schauspielhaus...
 
12.
Emil Jannings
His real name was Theodor Friedrich Emil Janenz, and in the early 1900s, he was already working in the theater under Max Reinhardt's company. Important movies where he defined himself as a convincing actor were Madame DuBarry and Quo Vadis?, followed by The Last Laugh(aka The Last Laugh) in 1924 and Variety (aka Variety) in 1925...
 
13.
Gustav Diessl
Gustav Diessl was an Austrian artist, film and stage actor. He studied art, painting and sculpture in Vienna. From 1921 he worked in Berlin as an actor for G.W. Pabst in his silent film, "Abgründe" (1928). In 1929 he played in White Hell of Pitz Palu ("The White Hell of Pitz Palu"). After that he became famous in USA...
 
14.
Peter Lorre
Actor, Casablanca
As a youth Peter Lorre ran away from home, worked as a bank clerk and, after stage training in Vienna, made his acting debut in Zurich. He remained unknown, traveling for several years and acting in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, until Fritz Lang cast him as the psychopathic child killer in M...
 
15.
Alexander Granach
Actor, Nosferatu
Alexander Granach was born in the region of Galizia, in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire (today Ukraine). Given the name Jessaja Szajko Gronish, he was one of a dozen children of a poor Jewish family eking out a living, first in a farming village, later in a series of small towns and cities...
 
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20.
Carl Esmond
Born Willy Eichberger in Vienna, Austria, he changed his name to the ethnically nondescript Carl Esmond and went on to become a well-regarded actor both here and in Europe, a career that sustained itself for nearly 50 years. He initially studied drama in Vienna at the State Academy of Dramatic Arts and started things off with the German film The Emperor's Waltz [The Emperor's Waltz]...
 
21.
Oskar Homolka
Actor, Sabotage
Because of his heavy generically "European" accent and Slavic-sounding surname (not an uncommon one among Czechs or Slovaks), many people assumed Oscar Homolka was Eastern European or Russian. In fact, he was born in Vienna (then Austria-Hungary), the multicultural capital of a large multi-ethnic empire at the time...
 
22.
Otto Wernicke
Actor, M
 
23.
Paul Henreid
Actor, Casablanca
Paul Henreid was born Paul Georg Julius Freiherr von Hernreid Ritter von Wasel-Waldingau in Trieste, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was the son of Marie Luise Heilig (Lendecke) and Baron Karl Alphons Hernreid. His father was an aristocratic banker, who was born to a Jewish family whose surname was changed from Hirsch to Hernreid...
 
24.
Gustav Knuth
Gustav Knuth was born on 7 July 1901 in Brunswick, Germany. After he received acting lessons from Casimir Paris, a well known actor at that time, he made his stage debut at the Stadttheater Heidelberg in 1918. Later, he played in Hamburg and also in Basel, Switzerland, but finally returned to Hamburg...
 
25.
Reinhold Schünzel
Actor, Notorious
The son of a German father and a Jewish mother, Schünzel was born in St. Pauli -- the best known, but also the poorest part of Hamburg. His father started off as an actor but economic circumstances forced him to turn towards commerce. For a while, the son followed in his footsteps. He undertook business studies and then began his professional career in the publishing business...
 
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28.
Anton Walbrook
Actor, La ronde
This dark, debonair, dashing and extremely distinguished Austrian actor was christened Adolf Wohlbrück in Vienna, the scion of a family of circus clowns. He broke away easily from generations of tradition as the circus life had no appeal whatsoever to Walbrook. Trained by the legendary director Max Reinhardt...
 
29.
Otto Waldis
Born in Vienna, Austria, May 20th, 1901 and began his acting career there while in his twenties, making is screen debut in Fritz Lang's "M" in 1931. Came to the United states in 1940. He worked frequently as a character actor in film and television (and occasionally on stage in NY) until the early 1960's...
 
33.
Peter van Eyck
With his whitish blond crew-cut, slow, menacing drawl and Germanic manner, Van Eyck was destined to be typecast as stereotypically scowling, arrogant Nazi officers. This was ironic, because being an avowed anti-fascist, he had left Germany in 1931 -- two years before Adolf Hitler came to power. The son of an aristocratic Prussian land owner...
 
34.
Heinz Moog
Actor, Senso
 
35.
Paul Hubschmid
The son of an accountant, Paul Hubschmid was born, raised and schooled in Schoenenwerd, Switzerland. He trained for an acting career at the Max Reinhardt Seminar of Dramatic Art in Vienna and first appeared on stage at the Vienna Volkstheater in 1937. His motion picture debut took place the following year...
 
42.
Karlheinz Böhm
The son of conductor Karl Böhm began his acting career on stage in Germany. In Europe, he is still best known for his role in the Sissi series, although he later starred in several movies of cult director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. After 1981, he was exclusively involved in charitable work in Ethiopia.
 
43.
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,...
 
44.
Oskar Werner
Remote, somewhat morose and, as a result, intriguing, Viennese talent Oskar Werner was born in 1922, not far from the birthplace of "Waltz King" Johann Strauss, and christened Oskar Josef Bschließmayer. His parents divorced when he was fairly young. While growing up, Oskar found performing in school plays helped draw out a deep yearning to act...
 
45.
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)...
 
46.
Wolfgang Preiss
Born in Nuremberg on February 27, 1910, the son of a school teacher, well-known German actor Wolfgang Preiss started studying philsophy and theatre sciences alternately (including dance training) and made his stage debut in 1932 in Munich. He appeared in many theatres throughout his country in the 30s including Heidelberg...
 
49.
Ferdy Mayne
His father was the Judge of Mayence (Mainz) and his mother, who was half-English, was a singing teacher. Since the family was Jewish, the teenage Ferdinand was sent to England to stay with his aunt Lee Hutchinson, a noted photographer and sculptress. His parents were briefly interned in Buchenwald, but his mother's English connections enabled them also to get to England before war broke out.
 
50.
Helmut Berger
Helmut Berger - Austrian born film actor, mostly known for starring in Luchino Visconti's films, which are now considered modern classics. Born Helmut Steinberger in Salzburg in 1944, he turned down a prospect of running a family hotel business and went to London where he worked as waiter to pay his way through drama school...
 
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52.
Klaus Kinski
Klaus Kinski was born Nikolaus Günther 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...
 
54.
Bruno S.
The unwanted son of a prostitute, Bruno S. was beaten so severely by his mother at age 3 that he became temporarily deaf. This led to his placement in a mental institution; he spent the next 23 years in various institutions, often running afoul of the law. Despite this past, he a self-taught painter and musician; while these were his favorite occupations...
 
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57.
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...
 
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Klaus Maria Brandauer
Gave his debut as an actor in 1962. Member of the 'Wiener Burgtheater' in Vienna since 1972. Played at the 'Salzburger Festspiele' since 1975. Directed plays since 1977. Debuted as a movie actor in 1972.
 
66.
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.
 
67.
Rutger Hauer
Blonde, blue-eyed, tall and handsome Dutch actor Rutger Hauer has an international reputation for playing everything from romantic leads to action heroes to sinister villains. Hauer was born in Breukelen, a town in the province of Utrecht, the Netherlands. He is the son of Teunke (Mellema) and Arend Hauer...
 
69.
Arnold Schwarzenegger
With an almost unpronounceable surname and a thick Austrian accent, who would have ever believed that a brash, quick talking bodybuilder from a small European village would become one of Hollywood's biggest stars, marry into the prestigious Kennedy family, amass a fortune via shrewd investments and one day be the Governor of California!...
 
70.
Bruno Ganz
Actor, Downfall
Bruno Ganz debuted at the theatre in 1961 and gained there a good reputation as a solid, young actor. In 1970 he founded with Peter Stein the theatre company "Schaubuehne" of Berlin. His debut at the movies was early and unsuccessful during the decade of 1960. His talent as a reflexive actor with tendencies towards introspection was widely known after Summer Guests.
 
71.
Udo Kier
Actor, Downsizing
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...
 
78.
Arno Frisch
To the cinema world, Arno Frisch is best known for his two first films under the direction of Michael Haneke, even though his career progressed over the years. He was born in Vienna, on November 13, 1975. Around the age of 17, he was selected by Haneke to act as lead in his second cinema feature. As the title character in Benny's Video...
 
79.
Frank Giering
Born and raised in Magdeburg (Germany), Frank Giering gained first stage experience as a background actor at the former known "Maxim-Gorki" theatre Magdeburg". During this time the desire arose to become an actor even though he said at a later time, that this desire was mainly animated due to his hunger...
 
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Benno Fürmann
Actor, North Face
Benno Fürmann was born on 17 January 1972 in Berlin, Germany and worked as a waiter, bouncer and drifter before attending acting lessons at the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York. After returning to Germany, he played several minor parts in movie and television projects until his breakthrough performance in Die Bubi Scholz Story...
 
85.
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...
 
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89.
Thomas Kretschmann
Actor, King Kong
Thomas Kretschmann was born in East Germany. Before becoming an actor, he was a swimmer. He has acted in several popular American movies, such as Resident Evil: Apocalypse, The Pianist, U-571, In Enemy Hands, etc. He has three children, Nicolas, Stella and Sascha with his ex-girlfriend Lena.
 
90.
Sebastian Koch
On stage, television or the movie theatre screen Sebastian Koch is undeniably one of Germany s most multi-faceted and successful actors. Born in Karlsruhe, Germany, May 31, 1962, he spent his childhood and youth in Stuttgart, southwestern Germany. He planned to become a musician, but in the late seventies a Stuttgart theater production by director Claus Peymann...
 
91.
Moritz Bleibtreu
Moritz Bleibtreu is a German actor born on August 13, 1971 in Munich growing up in Hamburg. He first appears in children's television series Neues aus Uhlenbusch at the age of six. His breakthrough was the role called "Abdul" in the movie Knockin' on Heaven's Door. He also became internationally known for his work on Run Lola Run...
 
92.
David Kross
Actor, The Reader
David Kross was born on July 4, 1990 in Bargteheide, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany next to Hamburg. He attended Eckhorst High School in Bargteheide till 2007. In this period, he first appears in the German movie Help, I'm a Boy!. He also receives his first leading role in the movie Tough Enough directed by Detlev Buck...
 
93.
Michael Fassbender
Michael Fassbender was born in Heidelberg, Germany, to a German father, Josef, and an Irish mother, Adele (originally from Larne, County Antrim, in Northern Ireland). Michael was raised in the town of Killarney, Co. Kerry, in south-west Ireland, where his family moved to when he was two years old. His parents ran a restaurant (his father is a chef)...
“ An Irish-German actor ” - minalex
 
94.
Christoph Waltz
Christoph Waltz is an Austrian-German actor. He is known for his works with American filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, receiving acclaim for portraying SS-Standartenführer Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds and bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained. For each performance, he won an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award...
 
95.
Matthias Schoenaerts
Matthias Schoenaerts was born on December 8, 1977 in Antwerp, Belgium. His mother, Dominique Wiche, was a costume designer, translator and French teacher, his father is actor Julien Schoenaerts. He made his film debut at the age of 13, alongside his father in the Belgian film Daens, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film...
 
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98.
Frederick Lau
Actor, The Wave
Frederick Lau is a German actor. He was born and raised in Steglitz, Berlin, Germany, and still lives there. He played in over 50 roles since 2000. In 2008 he won the Deutscher Filmpreis award (Lola) for best male role for being Tim Stoltefuss in "Die Welle". He is also known for portraying Wurstjunge in "Die Snobs".
 
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