Mueller-Stahl, Armin 1930–
Mueller-Stahl, Armin 1930–
Born December 17, 1930, in Tilsit, East Prussia, Germany (now Sovetsk, Russia); immigrated to East Berlin; immigrated to West Germany (now Germany), 1980; son of Alfred (a bank teller) and Editta Mueller-Stahl; married Gabriele Scholz (a dermatologist), 1973; children: Christian (an actor). Education: Attended drama school, beginning in 1952; studied violin at the Berlin Conservatory. Avocational Interests: Painting.
Career: Actor and writer. Berliner Ensemble, Berlin, East Germany (now Germany), concert violinist, beginning in the early 1950s; songwriter, performing protest tunes in East Germany and elsewhere, including France, Africa, and South America. Performer at various venues and festivals. Worked as a music teacher and pianist. Exhibitions of his paintings include Malerei und Zeichnung, Buddenbrookhaus, Luebeck, Germany, 2001–02, and Armin Mueller-Stahl: Paintings and Graphic Arts, the Kunsthaus Luebeck and City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, 2005.
Member: Screen Actors Guild, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Awards, Honors: State Prize, German Democratic Republic (East Germany [now Germany]), 1975; Film Award in Gold, outstanding individual achievement: actor (also known as Deutscher Filmpreis for Acting), German Film awards, 1982, for Lola; Chaplin Schuh prize, Association of German Film and Television Directors, 1982; Montreal World Film Festival Award, best actor, 1985, for Bittere Ernte; Silver Berlin Bear, best actor, Berlin International Film Festival, 1992, for Utz; San Diego Film Critics Society Award, best supporting actor, and Australian Film Institute Award, best actor in a supporting role, both 1996, Golden Satellite Award, best performance by an actor in a supporting role in a motion picture—drama, International Press Academy, Academy Award nomination, best actor in a supporting role, and Screen Actors Guild Award nomination (with others), outstanding performance by a cast, all 1997, all for Shine; Berlinale Camera, Berlin International Film Festival, 1997; Bavarian Television Award, 2002, Special Award, television event of the year, German Television awards, and Adolf Grimme Award in Gold, outstanding series or miniseries, both with others, both 2002, for Die Manns—Ein Jahrhun-dertroman; World Cinematography Award, Czech Critics awards, 2004.
Norbert, Heimliche Ehe (also known as The Secret Marriage), 1956.
Pierre, Fuenf Patronenhuelsen (also known as Five Cartridges), Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft (DEFA), 1960.
Michael, Koenigskinder (also known as And Your Love Too, Invincible Love, and Royal Children), 1962.
Ulrich Settich, … und Deine Liebe auch, 1962.
Hoefel, Nackt unter Woelfen (also known as Naked among Wolves and Naked among the Wolves), DEFA, 1962, Lopert, 1967.
Christine, filmed in 1963, released by Verleih des Staatlichen Filmarchivs der DDR (East Germany [now Germany]), 1974.
Quintana, Preludio 11 (also known as Prelude Eleven), 1964.
Sowjetischer Arzt, Alaskafuechse, 1964.
Dr. Achim Engelhardt, Ein Lord am Alexader-Platz, 1967.
Chris Howard, Toedlicher Irrtum, 1970.
The blind man, Der Dritte (also known as The Blind Man and The Third), DEFA, 1972.
Dr. Brock, Januskopf, 1972.
Dechant, Die Hosen des Ritters von Bredow, 1973.
Mr. Slavovitz, Kit & Co.—Lockruf des Goldes (also known as Kit & Co.), DEFA, 1974.
Roman Schtamm, Jakob der Luegner (also known as Jacob the Liar, Jakub lhar, and Jakub luhar), DEFA, 1975.
Wolfgang Schmidt, Nelken in Aspik, DEFA, 1976.
Dr. Volkmar Schmith, Die Flucht (also known as The Flight), DEFA, 1977.
Harald Liebe, Der Westen leuchtet (also known as Lite Trap), Cine-International, 1981.
Lawyer, Un dimanche de flics (also known as A Cop's Sunday), Societe Nouvelle Prodis, 1981.
Von Bohm, Lola, United Artists, 1981.
The father, L'homme blesse (also known as The Wounded Man), Gaumont, 1982.
Goedel, Die Fluegel der Nacht (also known as Wings of Night), 1982.
Max Rehbein, Veronika Voss (also known as Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss), United Artists, 1982.
Tetzlaff, Viadukt (also known as Matushka and The Train Killer), Mafilm, 1982.
Sam, Trauma, Futura Filmproduktion, 1983.
SS Untersturmfuhrer Mayer, Eine Liebe in Deutschland (also known as A Love in Germany and Un amour en Allemagne), Triumph Films, 1983.
Arnold, Tausend Augen (also known as Thousand Eyes), Filmverlag der Autoren, 1984.
Kurz, Die Mitlaeufer (also known as Following the Fuhrer), Futura Filmproduktion, 1984.
Rita Ritter, 1984.
Gandhi, An uns glaubt Gott nicht mehr (also known as God Does Not Believe in Us Any More and Wohin und zurueck—An uns glaubt Gott nicht mehr), Roxie Releasing, 1985, originally a television movie, 1982.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Oberst Redl (also known as Colonel Redl and Redl ezredes), Orion Classics, 1985.
The blind director, Der Angriff der Gegenwart auf die uebrige Zeit (also known as The Assault of the Present on the Rest of Time and The Blind Director), Spectrafilm, 1985.
Count Pergen, Vergesst Mozart (also known as Forget Mozart and Zabudnite na Mozarta), Slovak, 1985.
Francois Korb and Andres Korb, Glut (also known as Embers and Glut im Herzen), 1985.
Leon Wolny, Bittere Ernte (also known as Angry Harvest), European Classics, 1985.
Chief of the gray men, Momo, Rialto Film, 1986.
Mr. Kehlmann, Unser Mann im Dschungel (also known as The Jungle Mission and Amazonas Mission), Cine-International, 1986, originally a television movie, 1985.
Axel Baumgartner, Der Joker (also known as Lethal Obsession), 1987.
Inspector Alex Glas, Killing Blue (also known as Midnight Cop), 1988.
Baron von Rastschuk, Das Spinnennetz (also known as The Spider's Web), Beta-Kirch, 1989.
Marno, A Hecc (also known as Just for Kicks), Hungarofilm, 1989.
Maxwell, Schweinegeld (also known as C.A.S.H.: A Political Fairy Tale, Ein Marchen der Gebruder Nimm Schweinegeld, and Schweinegeld—Ein Maerchen der Gebrueder Nimm), Filmverlag der Autoren, 1989.
Arno/Aaron Bronstein, Bronsteins Kinder (also known as Bronstein's Children), Tobis Filmkunst, 1990.
Michael Laszlo, Music Box, TriStar, 1990.
Sam Krichinsky, Avalon, TriStar, 1990.
Helmut Grokenberger, Night on Earth (also known as LANewYorkParisRomeHelsinki and Une nuit sur terre), Fine Line Features, 1991.
Inspector Grubach, Kafka, Miramax, 1991.
Doc, The Power of One (also known as La puissance de l'ange), Warner Bros., 1992.
Otto Linder, Far from Berlin (also known as Loin de Berlin), 1992.
Baron Kaspar Joachim von Utz (title role), Utz, First Run Features/Castle Rock Productions, 1993.
Title role, Der Kinoerzaehler (also known as The Film Narrator and The Movie Teller), Roxy Film, 1993.
Dimitri, Red Hot, SC Entertainment International, 1993.
Severo de Valle, The House of the Spirits (also known as Aandernes hus, A casa dos espiritos, and Das Geisterhaus), Miramax, 1993.
Joseph Kopple, The Last Good Time, Samuel Goldwyn, 1994.
Uncle Wilhelm, Holy Matrimony, Interscope Communications/PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, 1994.
Virgilus and Karol, Taxandria, Iblis Films, 1994.
Elizar Kane, Theodore Rex (also known as T. Rex), New Line Cinema, 1995.
Mr. Linzer, A Pyromaniac's Love Story (also known as Burning Love), Buena Vista, 1995.
Adolf Hitler/Andreas Kronsted, Conversation with the Beast (also known as Gespraech mit dem Biest and Gespraech mit der Bestie), 1996.
Count von Kaltenborn, Der Unhold (also known as The Ogre and Le roi des aulnes), Westdeutscher Rundfunk/Le Studio Canal/France 2 Cinema, 1996.
Elias Peter Helfgott, Shine, Buena Vista, 1996.
Anson Baer, The Game, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, 1997.
Dimitri Vertikoff, The Peacemaker, DreamWorks, 1997.
Hanson, Tanger—Legende einer Stadt (documentary), Accolade Films/Paladin Films, 1997.
Morris Bober, The Assistant, Lions Gate Films, 1997.
Conrad Strughold, The X-Files (also known as Blackwood, Fight the Future, X-Files: Blackwood, The X-Files: Fight the Future, X-Files: The Movie, and Aux frontieres du reel), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1998.
Hannon Fuller and Grierson, The Thirteenth Floor (also known as Abwaerts in die Zukunft), Centropolis Entertainment, 1998.
Archbishop Werner, The Third Miracle, Sony Pictures Classics, 1999.
Dr. Kirschbaum, Jakob the Liar (also known as Jakob le menteur), TriStar, 1999.
(Uncredited) Ramier Beck, Mission to Mars (also known as M2M), Buena Vista, 2000.
Bertold "Barry" Bohmer, The Long Run, Universal, 2001.
(In archive footage) Himself, Der Bayerische Rebell (documentary), Neue Visionen Filmverleih, 2004.
Grandpa Randolph, The Dust Factory, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 2004.
Otto, The Story of An African Farm (also known as Bustin Bonaparte), Freestyle Releasing, 2004.
Karl Winter, Ich bin die Andere, Concorde Filmverleih, 2006.
Nicoli Seroff, Local Color, Permut Presentations/Local Color Productions, 2006.
Von Leeb, Leningrad, c. 2006, also broadcast as a miniseries, Channel One Russia, 2006.
Sigmund Freud, Sabina (also known as Where Love Reigns), Becker Entertainment, c. 2007.
Director, Conversation with the Beast (also known as Gespraech mit dem Biest and Gespraech mit der Bestie), 1996.
Television Appearances; Series:
Juergen Lesstorff, Wege uebers Land, Deutscher Fernsehfunk (East Germany [now Germany]), 1968.
(Uncredited) Musikant, Stuelpner-Legende, [East Germany (now Germany)], 1973.
Bredebusch, Das Unsichtbare Visier, Deutscher Fernsehfunk, c. 1973–79.
Keibel, Le gorille (also known as Codename: Gorilla, Il gorilla, and Le gorille se mange froid), France 2, beginning 1990.
Host, The Power of Knowledge, Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (Germany), 2005.
Television Appearances; Miniseries:
Hans Roeder (a legionnaire), Flucht aus der Hoelle, Deutscher Fernsehfunk (East Germany [now Germany]), 1960.
Wolfgang, Wolf unter Woelfen, [East Germany (now Germany)], 1964.
Kurt Lindow, Die Verschworenen, [East Germany (now Germany)], 1971.
Die sieben Affaeren der Dona Juanita, Deutscher Fernsehfunk, 1973.
Andreas Roth, Collin, 1981.
Himself, Plaisir du theatre, [France], 1983.
Wohin und zurueck, 1984.
General Petya Samanov, Amerika (also known as Topeka, Kansas … USSR), ABC, 1987.
Karl Steputat, Jokehnen oder Wie lange faehrt man von Ostpreussen nach Deutschland?, [West Germany (now Germany)], 1987.
Joseph, Jesus (also known as Die Bibel—Jesus and La bibbia: Jesus), CBS, 2000.
Alessio, Crociati (also known as Crusaders and Die Kreuzritter), [Germany and Italy], 2001.
Thomas Mann, Die Manns—Ein Jahrhundertroman, [Germany, Austria, and Switzerland], 2001.
(In archive footage) Unterwegs zue Familie Mann, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Norddeutscher Rundfunk, and Westdeutscher Rundfunk, 2001.
Von Leeb, Leningrad, Channel One Russia, 2006, also released theatrically, c. 2006.
Television Appearances; Movies:
Die Letzte Chance (title means "The Last Chance"), 1962.
Reinhard Marschner, Der Andere neben dir, 1963.
Columbus 64, 1966.
Die Dame aus Genua, 1969.
Oberleutnant Heide, Kein Mann fuer Camp Detrick, 1970.
Father Klemm, Die Eigene Haut, 1974.
Robert, Geschlossene Gesellschaft, 1978.
Die Laengste Sekunde, 1980.
Gandhi, Ferry oder Wie es war, 1981.
Ja und Nein, 1981.
Ernest Kiel, Die Gartenlaube (also known as Eugenie Marlitt und die Gartenlaube), 1982.
Lyssek, Flucht aus Pommern (also known as Flight from Pomerania), 1982.
Der Fall Sylvester Matuska, 1982.
Ich werde warten, 1982.
Gandhi, An uns glaubt Gott nicht mehr (also known as God Does Not Believe in Us Any More and Wohin und zurueck—An uns glaubt Gott nicht mehr), 1982, released as a theatrical film, Roxie Releasing, 1985.
Ruhe sanft, Bruno, 1983.
Dr. Konrad Ansbach, Tatort-Freiwild, 1984.
Dold, Hautnah, 1985.
Mr. Kehlmann, Unser Mann im Dschungel (also known as The Jungle Mission and Amazonas Mission), 1985, released as a theatrical film, Cine-International, 1986.
Dr. Leopold Jordan and Dr. Koerner, Der Fall Franza (also known as Franza), 1986.
Auf den Tag genau, 1986.
Gauner im Paradies, 1986.
Max Telligan, Tagebuch fuer einen Moerder, 1988.
Juror number four, 12 Angry Men, Showtime, 1997.
Rabbi Adam Heller, In the Presence of Mine Enemies, Showtime, 1997.
Hans Koenig, The Commissioner (also known as Der Commissioner—Im Zentrum der Macht), The Movie Channel, 1998.
Mac, Inferno (also known as Pilgrim), UPN, 2000.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Himself, Geiger, Gaukler, Gentleman, [Germany], 2001.
(In archive footage) Himself, Grosses Herz und grosse Klappe—Helga Feddersen, Norddeutscher Rundfunk (Germany), 2001.
Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:
Himself, The 69th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1997.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
"Die Rache enes V-Mannes," Sonderdezernat K1, 1981.
"Morgengrauen" (parts two and three), Ein Fall fuer zwei, 1984.
"Stellen Sie sich vor, man hat Dr. Prestel erschossen," Derrick, 1984.
Emil, "Les volets verts," L'heure Simenon, 1988.
Guest, "Wetten, dass …? aus Duisburg," Wetten, dass …?, 1991.
Guest, "Wetten, dass …? aus Muenchen," Wetten, dass …?, 2002.
Guest, Beckmann, 2002.
Israeli prime minister Efraim "Eli" Zahavy, "The Birnam Woods," The West Wing, NBC, 2004.
Israeli prime minister Efraim "Eli" Zahavy, "N.S.F. Thurmont," The West Wing, NBC, 2004.
Israeli prime minister Efraim "Eli" Zahavy, "Third Day Story," The West Wing, NBC, 2004.
Israeli prime minister Efraim "Eli" Zahavy, "The Warfare of Genghis Khan," The West Wing, NBC, 2004.
Guest, Die Johannes B. Kerner Show (also known as JBK), 2004.
Appeared at Theatre am Schiffbauerdamm, East Berlin, Germany, c. 1953; worked with Volksbuehne (a theatre company; name means "People's Stage"), East Berlin, 1954–c. 1979; appeared in East German productions as the Prince in Emilia Galotti; as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet; and as Andrei in War and Peace.
Conversation with the Beast (also known as Gespraech mit dem Biest and Gespraech mit der Bestie), 1996.
Verordneter Sonntag, Severin & Siedler, 1981.
In Gedanken an Marie Louise: Eine Liebesgeschichte, 1998.
Verordneter Sonntag (memoir), 1979.
Drehtage: "Music Box" und "Avalon" (diaries), Luchterhand, 1991.
Unterwegs nach Hause: Erinnerungen (memoir), Marion von Schroeder, 1997.
Malerei und Zeichnung (exhibition catalogue), c. 2001.
Venice: Ein amerikanisches Tagebuch, 2005.
International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, fourth edition, St. James Press, 2000.
People Weekly, November 12, 1990, pp. 87-88, 90.
Playboy, March, 1991, pp. 36-42.
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.
Films as Actor:
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)
By MUELLER-STAHL: articles—
"Der verzweifelte Versuch, den Kerl loszuwerden: Gespräch mit Armin Mueller-Stahl," interview with Katharina Dockhorn, in EPD Film (Frankfurt/Main), April 1997.
By MUELLER-STAHL: books—
Verordneter Sonntag (novel; title means "Lost Sunday"), Berlin, 1981.
Drehtage: Music Box und Avalon, Frankfurt, 1991.
On MUELLER-STAHL: book—
Hölzl, Gebhard, and Thomas Lassonczyk, Armin Mueller-Stahl: seine Filme, sein Leben, Munich, 1992.
On MUELLER-STAHL: articles—
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.
* * *
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