Nationality: German. Born: Tilsit, East Prussia (now Sovetsk, Russia), 17 December 1930. Education: Studied violin at Berlin Conservatory; attended drama school, starting in 1952. Family: Married Gabriele Scholz, 1973, son: Christian. Career: Concert violinist, then became actor; 1954—began long association with the Volksbühne, Berlin; 1956—film debut in Heimliche Ehen ; 1960—in TV series Fluchte aus der Hölle ; 1965—in TV mini-series, Wolf unter Wölfen , Wege übers Land , 1968, and Die sieben Affären der Dona Juanita , 1973; 1976—blacklisted from East German show business because of political activities; 1980—having been encouraged to leave the country, emigrated with family to West Germany; 1981—West German film debut in Fassbinder's Lola ; in TV miniseries Collin , Wohin und zurück , 1984, Jokehnen oder Wie lange fährtman von Ostpreussen nach Deutschland? , 1987, and Amerika ( Topeka, Kansas . . . USSR ), also 1987; 1989—American film debut in Costa-Gavras's Music Box , continued to work in Hollywood thereafter. Awards: Deutscher Filmpreis for Acting, for Lola , 1982; Silver Bear, Berlin Film Festival, for Utz , 1993. Address: Gartnweg 31, 2430 Sirksdorf, Germany. Agent: Paul Kohner, Inc., 9169 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90069, U.S.A.
Heimliche Ehen ( The Secret Marriage ) (Wagenheim)
Fünf Patronenhülsen (Beyer) (as the Frenchman)
Königskinder (Beyer); . . . und deine Liebe auch (Vogel)
Nackt unter Wölfen ( Naked among the Wolves ) (Beyer) (as Höfel); Christine (Dudow)
Alaskafüchse (Wallroth); Preludio 11 (Maetzig)
Ein Lord am Alexander-Platz (Reisch)
Tödlicher Irrtum (Petzold)
Der Dritte ( The Third ; The Blind Man ) (Günter) (as the blind man); Januskopf (Maetzig)
Die Hosen des Ritters von Bredow (Petzold)
Kit & Co.—Lockruf des Goldes (Petzold)
Jakob der Lügner ( Jacob the Liar ) (Beyer) (as Roman Schtamm)
Nelken in Aspik (Reisch)
Die Flucht ( The Flight ) (Gräf) (as Dr. Volkmar Schmith)
Geschlossene Gesellschaft (Beyer—for TV) (as Robert)
Die längste Sekunda (Kühn—for TV)
Lola (Fassbinder) (as Von Bohm); An uns glaubt Gott nicht mehr (for TV); Der Wessten leuchtet ( Lite Trap ) (Schilling) (as Harald Liebe); Ja und Nein (Tölle—for TV)
Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss ( Veronika Voss ) (Fassbinder) (as Max Rehbein); Viadukt ( Matushka ) (Sandor) (as Tetzlaff); Un Dimanche de flics ( A Cop's Sunday ) (Vicines) (as the lawyer); Ich werde warten (Barabas—for TV); Die Gartenlaube (Ballmann—for TV); Die Flügel der Nacht ( Wings of Night ) (Noever) (as Gödel); Flucht aus Pommern ( Flight from Pomerania ) (Schubert—for TV) (as Lyssek); Der Fall Sylvester matuska (Simo—for TV); Ausgestossen (Corti—for TV); An uns glaubt Gott nicht mehr (Corti—for TV)
Glut ( Glut im Herzen ; Embers ) (Koerfer) (as François Korb/Andres Korb); Eine Liebe im Deutschland ( A Love in Germany ; Un Amour en Allemagne ) (Wajda) (as SS-Untersturmfuhrer Mayer); L'Homme blesse (Chereau) (as Father); Trauma (Kubach) (as Sam); Ruhe sanft, Bruno (Gies—for TV)
Die Mitläufer ( Following the Fuhrer ) (Leiser) (as Kurz); Tausend Augen ( Thousand Eyes ) (Blumenberg) (as Arnold); Tatort—Freiwild (Staudte—for TV) (as Dr. Konrad Ansbach); Rita Ritter (Achternbusch)
Der Angriff der Gegenwart aud die Ubrige Zeit ( The Blind Director ) (Kluge) (as Blind Movie Director); Zabudnite na Mozarta ( Vergesst Mozart ; Forget Mozart! ) (Luther) (as Count Pergen); Redl Ezredes ( Oberst Redl ; Colonel Redl ) (Szabó) (as Crown Prince Franz-Josef); An uns glaubt Gott nicht mehr ( God Doesn't Believe in Us Anymore ) (Corti) (as Gandhi)
Bittere Ernte ( Angry Harvest ) (Agnieszka Holland) (as Leon); Hautnah (Schulze-Rohr—for TV); Unser Mann im Dschungel ( The Jungle Mission ) (Steiner and Stripp—for TV) (as Mr. Kehlmann); Momo (Schaaf) (as Chief Grey Man); Der Fall Franza ( Franza ) (Schwarzenberger—for TV) (as Dr. Jordan/Dr. Korener); Gauner im Paradies (Fantl—for TV); Auf den Tag genau (Laehn)
Der Joker ( Lethal Obsession ) (Patzak) (as Axel Baumgartner)
Das Spinnennets ( Spider's Web ) (Wicki) (as Baron von Rastschuk); Der Gorilla (Rusnale); Tagebuch für einen Mörder (Gottlieb—for TV) (as Max Telligan)
Music Box (Costa-Gavras) (as Michael Laszlo); Midnight Cop ( Killing Blue ) (Patzak) (as Inspector Alex Glas); Schweinegold (Kückelmann); Ein Märchen der Gebruder Nimm Schweinegold ( C.A.S.H.: A Political Fairy Tale ) (as Maxwell); A Hecc ( Just for Kicks ) (as Marno)
Avalon (Levinson) (as Sam Krichinsky)
Kafka (Soderbergh) (as Inspector Grubach); "New York" ep. of Night on Earth (Jarmusch) (as Helmut Grokenberger); Bronsteins Kinder ( Bronstein's Children ) (Kawalerowicz) (as Arno Bronstein)
The Power of One (Avildsen) (as Doc); Far from Berlin (McNally) (as Otto Linder)
Utz (Sluizer) (as Baron Kaspar Joachim von Utz); Der Kinoerzaehler ( The Movie Teller ) (Sinkel) (as the movie teller); The House of the Spirits (August) (as Severo)
Holy Matrimony (Nimoy) (as Uncle Wilhelm); The Last Good Time (Balaban) (as Joseph Kopple)
A Pyromaniac's Love Story (Brand) (as Mr. Linzer); T. Rex ( Theodore Rex ) (Betuel)
Taxandria (Servais); Shine (Hicks) (as Peter); Der Unhold ( The Ogre ) (Schlöndorff) (as Count von Kaltenborn); Conversation with the Beast ( Gespräch mit dem Biest ) (as Adolf Hitler, + dir, sc)
The Assistant (Petrie) (as Mr. Bober); 12 Angry Men (Friedkin—for TV) (as Juror #4); The Peacemaker (Leder) (as Dimitri Vertikoff)
The Commissioner (Sluizer) (as Hans Konig); The X Files (Bowman) (as Conrad Strughold)
The Third Miracle (Holland) (as Archbishop Werner); Pilgrim (Cokliss) (as Mac); Jakob the Liar (Kassovitz) (as Kirschbaum); Jesus (Young—mini for TV) (as Joseph); The Thirteenth Floor (Rusnak) (as Hannon Fuller)
Mission to Mars (De Palma) (as Ramier Beck)
"Der verzweifelte Versuch, den Kerl loszuwerden: Gespräch mit Armin Mueller-Stahl," interview with Katharina Dockhorn, in EPD Film (Frankfurt/Main), April 1997.
Verordneter Sonntag (novel; title means "Lost Sunday"), Berlin, 1981.
Drehtage: Music Box und Avalon, Frankfurt, 1991.
Hölzl, Gebhard, and Thomas Lassonczyk, Armin Mueller-Stahl: seine Filme, sein Leben , Munich, 1992.
Walsh, Michael, "A Star Is Reborn," in Premiere (New York), November 1990.
Farrell, Mary H. J., and Franz Spelman, "Emerging from behind the Iron Curtain, Armin Mueller-Stahl Finds Freedom—and Stardom in Avalon ," in People Weekly (New York), 12 November 1990.
Rother, H.-J., "Drehtage Music Box und Avalon ," in EPD Film (Frankfurt, Germany), July 1991.
Boxoffice (Chicago), June 1997.
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Armin Mueller-Stahl's acting career began in East Germany with theatrical roles in a romantic vein: Romeo in Romeo and Juliet , the Prince in Lessing's Emilia Galotti , and Andrei in the stage version of War and Peace . In 1956 he made his cinema debut, and has subsequently had the opportunity to display his rare talent for projecting highly dramatic characters who unite the tragic and the everyday, the romantic and the down-to-earth.
He first attracted notice in the role of the Frenchman in Fünf Patronenhülsen by Frank Beyer (Mueller-Stahl was to appear in many of Beyer's later films). In the story of a group of soldiers forced to try and make their way out of an ambush during the Spanish Civil War, Mueller-Stahl was praised for the realism of his performance and for the fluidity and at the same time restraint of his dramatic talent. His part in the 1960 television series Flucht aus der Hölle brought him tremendous acclaim. His success was confirmed in the film version of Bruno Apiz's novel Nackt unter Wölfen in which he once again worked with Beyer as well as Erwin Geschonek. Hefel (Mueller-Stahl) sacrifices himself with dignity in order to save the Jewish child whom the prisoners have hidden in the beech woods.
After having been blacklisted in East Germany for his political activities, Mueller-Stahl was encouraged to emigrate, whereupon he took his family to West Germany. Although virtually unknown in the West, he soon worked with Fassbinder in Lola and Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss —films that formed a part of the director's great fresco in which he attempted to depict the social and spiritual development of Germany from the war years to the present. In Lola Mueller-Stahl laconically traces, almost as if from a distance, the downfall of a city administrator who becomes prey to the seductions of Lola (an obvious allusion to Josef von Sternberg's The Blue Angel ) and the temptations of money and corruption.
In 1983 Mueller-Stahl reached a high point in his dramatic career with the film Glut , which deals with one of the central themes of the Swiss cinema: the wound left behind in the national consciousness by Swiss neutrality during World War II. Mueller-Stahl has a double role as a father, an arms producer actively involved with the Fascists in Germany, and his son, who bears the spiritual "wound" of his childhood. The family seem prosperous and content, but they are not spared the tragedy of war: the grandfather, a colonel in the Swiss Reserves, dies while trying to save a Polish prisoner of war, and the arms factory is shelled by the Allies. The son is made painfully aware of his "wound" when he meets a girl who was taken into a comfortable Swiss home during the war years—a little Polish girl, saved from annihilation in the ghetto and now grown into a beautiful, independent woman (Krystyna Janda). The collapse of a human life is shown here by Mueller-Stahl with great realism, and at the same time with that distancing irony that characterizes his best screen roles.
In the late 1980s, Hollywood discovered Mueller-Stahl, who soon played two astonishingly different characters in two of his first American films, Costa-Gavras's Music Box and Barry Levinson's Avalon . In the former he had to learn English and take on a Hungarian accent as a Nazi war criminal who has spent decades as a patriotic immigrant in the United States before his past crimes come to light. In the latter Mueller-Stahl spiced his English with some Yiddish to touchingly capture the patriarch of an extended family of Jewish immigrants to America who is unable to hold the family together against the strong currents of suburbanization and American culture. After a supporting role as an inspector in Steven Soderbergh's somewhat disappointing Kafka , Mueller-Stahl had an endearing comic role as the just-off-the-boat immigrant taxi driver who can barely drive or speak English but finds a friendly face in a streetwise Brooklynite fare in the "New York" episode of Jim Jarmusch's wildly uneven Night on Earth . Of special of note is Mueller-Stahl's deft touch at capturing his character's amazement at the sights he sees on the way to Brooklyn—it is little wonder that so many of his characters for Hollywood have been immigrants. His best later career role to date, however, is not in any of his Hollywood films, but in the international co-production Utz , directed by George Sluizer and based on the novel by Bruce Chatwin. Here Mueller-Stahl brings to vivid life a very eccentric Czechoslovak baron whose life obsession is collecting porcelain figurines. (The actor's son Christian also appears, portraying the baron at age 18.)
—Maria Racheva, updated by David E. Salamie