KINO favorites: Top 10 German actors | Film | DW | 16.08.2016
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KINO favorites: Top 10 German actors

For the latest in DW's series on the best in German cinema, we pick our favorite actors. From the cool and calculating to the wild and crazy, these German actors make us stand up and take notice.

We've picked and ranked what we think are the 10 best actors in German film. Out list reaches all the way back to the 1930s and includes Oscar winners, box-office champs and cult favorites.

These are 10 very different men with a range of characters and styles. Some are controlled and precise, others erratic and wild. Some specialize in cunning villains; others are masters of playing the weak and vulnerable. Many are very, very funny.

Glance over our selection and you'll see we've favored brains over brawn, sensitivity over sexiness and humor over He-Men. Some of the German cinema's biggest stars - Til Schweiger, Matthias Schweighöfer, Elyas M'Barek - are conspicuously absent. This isn't a popularity contest, but our very subjective and highly personal pick of what we think have been the best screen performers in German cinema.

The story of German history - often dark, frequently troubled - has meant cinema here has always had a problem with traditional male heroes. Our favorites have had to struggle with more complicated roles, giving life to Nazis and Holocaust collaborators, and to villains of all description. These are conflicted characters, men who frequently do the wrong thing.

Our favorite actors play maniacs and murderers, punks and layabouts. Many are almost painfully average. They are everymen, not supermen. These guys rarely save the day. They have a hard enough time just saving themselves.

The technique and style of our favorite actors varies widely. Some are subtle, technical performers, theatrically trained and precise, expressing everything with a raised eyebrow or a twist of the head. Others seem to act from their gut with in-your-face performances that are impossible to ignore.

A new generation of German actor, several of which have made our list, act as if they had just walked off the street, so natural and unaffected are their performances. But all are masters of merging with a role so that actor and character appear indivisible. And, to a man, these are very smart guys.

What do you think of our selection? Has you favorite star been snubbed? Let us know your personal Top 10 by writing to us at

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