In this article I’ll be giving an outline of my favourite German actors, though this is not really a definitive ranking since they are all equally outstanding.
10. Friederich Mücke
Friederich Mücke is a young actor whose career is on the rise. He is best known for his role as Veit alongside Matthias Schweigöfer in Friendship which earned him a nomination as Bester Nachwuchsschauspieler (Best talended young actor) at the prestigious Bayerischer Filmpreis (Bavarian Film Awards). Friendship is the story of two German young men – Veit (Mücke) and his friend Tom (Schweighöfer) – who, after the fall of the Berlin wall, travel to the United States. Veit longs to see his father, who fled from the GDR some years back, and Tom decides to tag along. The journey is full of surprises and adventures. Interestingly, the story is based on the experience of the producer Tom Zieckler, who embarked on a similar journey in 1989. Mücke’s character is engaging and fun and along with Matthias they make a brilliant comedy duo.
Mücke often stars with him in comedies, the latest being Vaterfreuden – which can be translated as ‘The joys of fatherhood’. I’d certanly love to see him in more films and maybe portraying a different character in a drama film.
9. Tom Wlaschiha
Tom Wlaschiha is perhaps internationally known for his roles in the crime tv-series Crossing Lines and Game Of Thrones, but he also starred in other English language productions such as: Enemy At The Gates, Valkyrie, Resistance, Rush and Mr. Turner where he had a cameo role as Prince Albert. He’s a versatile actor and, although he has been seen much more frequently featured in German tv than in cinema, his role in Games of Thrones is contributing to making him known to a wider international audience.
8. Florian Stetter
Born in Munich – incidentally one of my favourite German cities – Florian Stetter’s career ranges from Napola – Elite für den Führer (English: Before the Fall) to Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage (English: Sophie Scholl – The final days) and Nackt Unter Wölfen (English: Naked among Wolves). From these titles it’s pretty clear that he’s starred in many WWII related films. Recently he’s also portrayed Schiller in the German drama Die geliebten Schwestern (English: Beloved Sisters) which I found to be an interesting film with a good cast and very distinctive in the way it was filmed, as it is similar to a theatre production. Stetter is a promising actor and I quite liked all the films he’s starred in. Nanga Parbat for example, in which Florian plays the lead, tells the story of the Messner brothers and their expedition on the Nanga Parbat mountain. This film was very emotional and I enjoyed watching it especially since it was based on true events.
7. Til Schweiger
Till Schweiger is a versatile actor who is also a producer and director. He’s starred in many international films – most notably The Red Baron and Inglourious Basterds – as well as well-known German films like Männerherzen,
Keinohrhasen, Wo ist Fred? and Kokowääh are all light-hearted comedies where he plays the main character, whereas Männerherzen is made up of different stories that intertwine and Schweiger is the protagonist of just one of them. Among his roles my personal favourite is The Red Baron’s, in which he plays Werner Voss, a pilot friend of the lead character Manfred Von Richthofen.
Schweiger is a remarkable actor, capable of playing a variety of characters – from the playboy Ludo in Keinohrhasen, to Stg. Hugo Stiglitz in Inglourious Basterds. Schweiger also directed Keinohrhasen,which proved to be a huge success in German cinemas and was awarded a Bambi (the oldest media award in Germany, given to German and international personalities in various categories), a Deutscher Comedy Preis (German Comedy Award) and a Bayerischer Filmpreis (Bavarian Film Award). This is just a glimpse of Till Schweiger’s career achievements. I’d certainly look out for him if I were you.
6. Matthias Schweighöfer
Matthias Schweighöfer is a worldwide famous actor and maybe one of the most famous and beloved in Germany. He portrayed Manfred Von Richthofen in The Red Baron, then he started starring in many comedies such as : Frau Ella, Vaterfreunden, Friendship, What a Man, Schlussmaker and the latest release Der Nanny. Among all of his films I particulary liked The Red Baron, because I still think it was his best performance and he should get back to dramas to me. Nevertheless, I also enjoyed his typical German comedies in which he was hilarious and brilliant as always. To choose among them is very tricky for me but I’d say Rubbeldiekatz would be my favourite. He’s been awarded a Bambi and a Romy (a prestigious Austrian TV award) for Schlussmacher and a Jupiter award for Vaterfreunden. You might also know him for his cameo in Valkyrie; he’s a badass in that one. Look out for him and you won’t regret it.
5. Alexander Fehling
Best known for his role in Goethe! (English: Young Goethe In Love), Alexander Fehling is probably internationally famous as Oberfeldwebel (sergeant) Wilhelm in Inglourious Basterds. He’s recently starred in the film Im Labyrinth des Schweigens (English: Labyrinth of Lies) which was also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014 in the section ‘Contemporary World Cinema’. His performance in Goethe! was masterful and I’ve started to become interested in his career since I saw it. He hasn’t starred in many films yet, but he’s making his mark as an actor and I’m certain he’s poised for more success and world-wide praise.
4. Ken Duken
Ken Duken is a famous actor in Germany and he has also played in many English language films like Chalet Girl, in which he portrayed Mikki the snowboard instructor that helped Felicity Jones’s character get back on the board. He also played a little role in Inglourious Basterds and in the BBC two-part-film The Sinking of The Laconia. I especially liked his role in this film as I thought he brought much emotion to the character and it was very easy to relate to him. Another important role he played in Germany was the one of Karl Benz in the film Carl & Bertha. His performance with Felicitas Woll was overwhelming and riveting and the two actors together made for a great duo. You definitely shouldn’t miss his works because he’s a promising rising star!
Volker Bruch is a Munich-born actor best known for his role in the German war tv-series Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter (English:Generation War) which was also broadcast in the UK. It was a successful series both in Germany and abroad as it won the Bayerischer Fernsehpreis (Bavarian Film Awards), the Deutscher Fernsehpreis (in the category miniseries),a Goldene Kamera award, Jupiter award and an International Emmy Award in the category ‘miniseries’. His performance in this tv series was outstanding and, on a personal note, I thought he should have been nominated for Best Performance, but in any case the outcome of the series was successful and his performance had international resonance as a result. He has starred in more tv films than big screen movies. In The Red Baron he portrayed Lothar Von Richtofen, while in the tv-comedy Machen wir’s auf Finnisch Volker Bruch’s portrayal of Matti, the leader of the Finnish Rock band Rypeli, was hilarous. He also starred in Goethe! as a friend of Goethe’s. What can I say more about him? My feeling is that his career will skyrocket following the huge succes of Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter.
2. Tom Schilling
Tom Schilling is an internationally famous actor who has starred in many films such as Joy Division, a tear-jerker WWII drama film in which Shilling plays the lead role as the young Thomas. This film and his role were outstanding and impressive. He also played a German lieutenant by the name of Kurt Bonnet, a badass in this case. Schilling played many WWII roles, for example soldier Friedhelm Winter in Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter (English: Generation War), and Albrecht Stein in Napola – Elite für den Führer (English: Before the Fall). He’s notable for playing soldiers but his roles vary and in the 2014 thriller Who Am I he portrays the controversial Benjamin, a computer hacker with a twisted personality. You can see him in his latest work, in the American- British production Woman in Gold, so keep an eye out for him.
You may have spotted him as Baron Wolfgang von Strucker in Avengers:Age of Ultron, his latest role, but Thomas Kretschmann has a long list of films to his credit. It would take too long to list all of them but some honourable mentions are: The Pianist, Stalingrad, Eichmann, and Downfall, all WWII related movies that seem to be a recurring feature of his acting career.
He’s very charismatic and, again, a very versatile actor. He’s not only capable of pulling off dramatic roles, but his career spans a variety of genres (comedy, adventure, children films etc.).
He’s one of the most notable German actors of his generation and one that will exert a strong influence on young actors to come.
I'm particularly passionate about British and German cinema, and I'm a sucker for a good old war film.