Swiss actor Bruno Ganz has passed away. He was 77 years old. Ganz was recently diagnosed with colon cancer and died at his home in Zurich on Friday, according to his agent, Patricia Baumbauer. The actor appeared in over 80 movies and TV shows over the span of his lengthy career, and is arguably best-known for playing a defeated Hitler in Downfall, which has since become a viral sensation. Ganz is also known for playing an angel in Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire.

Bruno Ganz won the Donatello Award for his performance in 2000's Bread and Tulips. The award is Italy's Academy Awards equivalent, and Ganz won for his role as a quiet, poetic waiter who bonds with a runaway homemaker. Most of Ganz's performances were for European movies and TV shows. In addition to working with Wim Wenders on Wings of Desire, the actor worked on the director's 1977 film noir homage, The American Friend with Dennis Hopper, where he played a German man with a terminal-illness who agrees to be a hit man.

Bruno Ganz was born March 22nd, 1941 in Zurich. He decided to get into acting before entering college. Ganz started acting on the stage in 1961 and devoted himself to theatrical performance and stayed in that world for nearly two decades. He won many awards during this time, including German magazine Theater heute's Actor of the Year award in 1973. 1976's movie Sommergaste was the one to put Ganz on the map for the screen and launched a new phase of his career.

With more than 80 acting credits to his name, Bruno Ganz's role as Hitler in 2004's Downfall is what the majority of people know him from. The actor was hesitant to take on the role at first, which he said was full of "ugly and terrible stuff," but later agreed after admitting that there was a "temptation" and a subject that he found "fascinating." Ganz had this to say about taking on the role.

"I did four months of research. The producers sent me a tape, secretly recorded in Finland in 1942, with Hitler's natural voice - not the screaming orator we are used to, but a soft, attractive voice, a calm baritone. I tried to capture that."

In his spare time, Bruno Ganz enjoyed reading and people watching, according to an interview in 2005. While the actor gained many accolades over the years, one of his greatest is arguably the Iffland-Ring. The ring is a diamond-studded piece of jewelry, which is named after the first German actor in the 1870s to receive the honor of "most significant and most worthy actor of the German-speaking theater." Ganz received the ring in 1996 and is only the fifth person to carry it on. It is unclear where the ring will move to next. He is survived by his partner, the film-industry photographer Ruth Walz, and son, Daniel, who was born in 1972. Rest In Peace, Bruno Ganz. This news was originally reported by the BBC.

Kevin Burwick at Movieweb
Kevin Burwick