Family & Companions
One of the few contemporary German-speaking actors to have become established as an international star, Klaus Maria Brandauer first came to prominence for his compelling performance as Hendrik Hofgen, an ambitious young actor adopted by the Nazi party during the 1930s, in Hungarian director Istvan Szabo's Oscar-winning Best Foreign Film "Mephisto" (1981). A longtime member of Vienna's Burgtheater (The National Theater of Austria), the compact, burly, stage-trained Brandauer won acclaim for his performances as several Shakespearean heroes (Hamlet, Romeo, Petruchio) and has been a perennial player at the Salzburg Festival, appearing in the titular role of Hugo von Hoffmanstahl's "Everyman." Though he made his film debut in 1972's "The Salzburg Connection," his dissatisfaction with the end product kept him leery of the big screen for many years.
Following the success of "Mephisto," Brandauer received a flood of offers, mostly for stereotypical heavies, SS Generals and the like. He rejected all but the part of James Bond's arch rival Maximilian Largo and had a hoot increasing his international exposure as the mad genius who wants to rule the world in "Never Say Never Again" (1983), Sean Connery's return as 007. He brought erotic tension and charisma to his scene-stealing portrayal of Meryl Streep's philandering husband in Sydney Pollack's "Out of Africa" (1985), earning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. That same year he reteamed with Szabo for "Colonel Redl," delivering a superbly nuanced portrait of an ambitious, homosexual soldier in pre-WWI Austria. "Hanussen" (1988) completed their trilogy together, and Brandauer's titular soldier, whose head wound leaves him with psychic abilities, first gains Nazi favor predicting Hitler's victory but loses it when he foretells of the Reichstag fire and indicates who the real culprits are.
Brandauer was the saving grace of the boxing melodrama "Streets of Gold" (1986), as a Russian expatriate who trains two Olympic hopefuls. He brought a touch of menace to his charming, amoral baron (yet another soldier with a wound) in the old-fashioned melodrama "Burning Secret" (also 1988), exploiting his friendship with a son to get close to the mother (Faye Dunaway). At the suggestion of Sean Connery, he played a small but pivotal role as a Soviet scientist in "The Russia House" (1990), and he also acted with Ethan Hawke in Disney's workmanlike remake of Jack London's adventure "White Fang" (1991). Brandauer's feature directorial debut came with "Seven Minutes" (1989), a fact-based story of a watchmaker who plotted to assassinate Hitler, which earned praise in his native Germany. He next helmed and scripted "Mario and the Magician" (1994), about a German author's brush with fascism during a vacation in Italy. A splendid "Rembrandt," he also made his American TV debut with a fascinating portrayal of Otto Preminger in HBO's "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" (both 1999).
Director (Feature Film)
Cast (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Began working with Vienna's Burgtheater (the National Theater of Austria) as actor and director
Film acting debut in Lee H Katzin's "The Salzberg Connection", produced by Ingo Preminger, brother of Otto
First feature with Istvan Szabo, "Mephisto", based on the true story of German actor Hendrik Hofgen, noted for his portrayal of Mephistopheles in Goethe's "Faust", who ironically made his own Faustian bargain with the Nazis
Portrayed Jame Bond's arch rival Maximillian Longo in Irvin Kershner's "Never Say Never Again", starring Sean Connery
Earned critical praise and an Oscar nod for his supporting turn as Bror Blixen, the philandering husband of writer Isak Dinesen, in Sydney Pollack's Oscar-winning "Out of Africa"
Reteamed with Szabo for "Colonel Redl"
Delivered splendid turn as charming amoral baron and World War I vet in "Burning Secret", based on a Stefan Zweig short story previously filmed by Robert Siodmak in 1933
Made third film with Szabo, "Hanussen"
Film directing debut, "Seven Minutes" (English language, US-West German co-production), also starred
Reteamed with Connery for Fred Schepisi's "The Russia House", playing a Soviet scientist who smuggles his notebooks to the West
Appeared in "White Fang"
Screenwriting debut, "Mario and the Magician"; also starred and directed
Played King Nebuchadnezzar in TV presentation "Jeremiah", which aired that December in Italy and the following year in Israel
Splendidly portrayed the Dutch Master from age 28-63 in "Rembrandt", a visually impressive film by painter Charles Matton
Made a fascinating Otto Preminger in the HBO biopic "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge"