Klaus Maria Brandauer
Birth Date:
June 22, 1943
Birth Place:
Alt Aussee, Austria
Famous for:
His role in 'Mephisto' (1981)
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Out of Africa


Austrian actor and film director Klaus Maria Brandauer first came to fame for his award winning performance of German actor Hendrik Hofgen in Istvan Szabo's Oscar winning “Mephisto” (1981), his first of three films with the Hungarian director. He achieved even more recognition with his Academy Award nominated role as Meryl Streep's husband in “Out of Africa” (1985), which was directed by Oscar winner Sydney Pollack. Brandauer's performance also earned the stage trained actor a Golden Globe Award, a National Board of Review Award, a Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award, a New York Film Critics Circle Award and a BAFTA nomination. Brandauer is also well remembered for playing roles in the James Bond movie “Never Say Never Again” (1983, starred Sean Connery), “Colonel Redl” (1985), “Burning Secret” (1988), “Hanussen” (1988), “The Russia House” (1990, again with Connery), “Rembrandt” (1999) and “Vercingétorix” (2001). On the small screen, he is perhaps best known to the American public as Otto Preminger in the HBO film “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” (1999), from which he picked up a Golden Globe nomination.

As a director, Brandauer made an auspicious debut with “Georg Elser - Einer aus Deutschland” (“Seven Minutes,” 1989), which received praise in Germany. Also starring in the film, he won a Fantafestival Award and a German Art House Cinemas Guild Film Award. Other directorial credits include the award winning “Mario and the Magician” (1994) and “Wand, Die” (1999).

Outside of his film, theater and TV work, Brandauer is a professor at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna, Austria. His autobiography, “Bleiben tu' ich mir nich,” written in German, was published in 1991. Brandauer was the head of jury at the 1987 Berlin International Film Festival and a member of the jury at the Venice Film Festival in 1989.

On a more personal note, Brandauer and his late wife, director Karin Brandauer, whom he was married to from 1963 until her death in 1992, had one son named Christian who has written films that were directed by his father. Currently, Brandauer is married to Natalie Krenn.

Austria to Germany

Childhood and Family:

The son of Georg Steng and Maria Brandauer, Klaus Georg Steng was born on June 22, 1943, in Bad Aussee, Austria. He later took his mother's maiden name as his stage name. Raised in West Germany, Klaus attended the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Stuttgart, but dropped out after a year in 1963. He holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Tel Aviv in Israel.

Klaus married Austrian director Karin Brandauer in 1963. His wife died on November 13, 1992, of cancer. They had a son named Christian Brandauer. Klaus is now the husband of Natalie Krenn, whom he married on July 6, 2007.



Klaus Maria Brandauer began his stage career in 1962 when he made his debut in “The Madwoman of Chaillot.” After leaving his studies, the Austrian native performed with such renowned repertory companies as Dusseldorf and Tubingen until 1970 when he joined Burgtheater (the National Theater of Austria), where he served as an actor and director. Thanks to his versatility and attractiveness on stage, Brandauer quickly became one of the best known stage performers in the German speaking world.

After working in national theater and on television, Brandauer made his feature film acting debut as a villain named Johann Kronsteiner in Lee H Katzin's “The Salzburg Connection” (1972), which was based on a novel by Helen MacInnes. Seven years later, he appeared in the 1979 Hungarian film “A Sunday in October,” opposite Ferenc Bács.

Brandauer's big breakthrough arrived when he was cast in the leading role of Hendrik Hofgen, a determined young actor adopted by the Nazi party during the 1930s, in Hungarian director Istvan Szabo's “Mephisto” (1981). The acclaimed drama won a 1982 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Brandauer picked up a David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actor and a Jussi for Best Foreign Filmmaker. He also received a BAFTA nomination for Most Outstanding Newcomer to Leading Film Roles. The success launched Brandauer's international career.

Following his compelling performance in “Mephisto,” Brandauer portrayed the challenging role of James Bond's arch rival Maximilian Largo in the 1983 Bond thriller “Never Say Never Again,” which starred Sean Connery as 007. In 1985, the actor worked again with Szabo for “Colonel Redl,” a biographical film about the rise and fall of Alfred Redl (played by Brandauer). Later that same year, he was hired to portray the supporting role of Bror Blixen in the Sydney Pollack directed “Out of Africa.” Delivering a spectacular performance as the philandering husband of writer Isak Dinesen (played by Meryl Streep), he received critical praise and an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. The role also brought the noted actor a Golden Globe Award, a Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award, a National Board of Review Award, a New York Film Critics Circle Award and a BAFTA nomination.

Brandauer next costarred with Tom Bower in the drama “The Lightship” (1986), starred as a Russian expatriate in the Joe Roth boxing melodrama “Streets of Gold” (1986) and offered a good performance in “Burning Secret” (1988), from which he took home a Bavarian Film for Best Actor (Darstellerpreis). Also in 1988, he was reunited with Szabo to complete their trilogy in “Hanussen,” in which Brandauer played a soldier. For his effort, he was handed a 1991 Golden Camera and an European Film nomination for Best Actor. Brandauer closed out the decade making his directorial debut with “Georg Elser - Einer aus Deutschland” (“Seven Minutes,” 1989), which he also starred in. Based on the true story of a watchmaker who plotted to assassinate Hitler, the drama received praise in Germany. As for his performance, Brandauer nabbed a Fantafestival for Best Actor and a Guild of German Art House Cinemas award.

Brandauer's work became sporadic in the 1990s. In 1990, he took on the small, but important, role of a Soviet scientist in Fred Schepisi's “The Russia House,” which reunited him with Connery. He then shared top billing with Ethan Hawke in “White Fang” (1991), adapted from a book by Jack London, and starred as notorious bachelor Henri Gauthier-Villars in the drama “Becoming Colette” (1992) before returning to the director's chair for “Mario and the Magician” (1994), which he also scripted and starred in as Cipolla. The film won Brandauer an Andrei Tarkovsky Award from the Moscow International Film Festival and a Guild of German Art House Cinemas award. He then portrayed painter Rembrandt van Rijn in the French language movie “Rembrandt” (1999), which was directed by Charles Matton. Still in 1999, he made his American TV debut in the HBO dramatic musical “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” where he memorably portrayed Otto Preminger and received a Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe nomination for his performance. Among his costars in the TV film were Halle Berry, Brent Spiner, Obba Babatundé and Loretta Devine. Brandauer also starred in such films as “Belief, Hope and Blood” (2000), Erik Gustavson's “Dykaren” (2000, with Izabella Scorupco), “Vercingétorix” (2001, opposite Christopher Lambert), Fritz Lehner's “Everyman's Feast” (2002), the Edoardo Ponti directed/written “Between Strangers” (2002, with Sophia Loren, Mira Sorvino and Deborah Kara Unger), “Entrusted” (2003, TV) and “Entführung aus dem Serail, Die” (2003, TV). In 2006, he was cast as Emperor Franz-Joseph in the TV film “Kronprinz Rudolf.”

In 2009, Brandauer appeared in Francis Ford Coppola’s drama “Tetro” and will star as special agent Urs Rappold in director Pascal Verdosci’s “Manipulation.” Based on a novel by Walter Matthias Digglemann, the movie is slated for a 2010 release.


  • Art Film Festival: Actor's Mission Award, 2003

  • Bambi: Bambi Culture, 2003

  • Moscow International Film Festival: Andrei Tarkovsky Award, “Mario und der Zauberer,” 1995

  • Guild of German Art House Cinemas: Guild Film Award - Silver, German Film (Deutscher Film), “Mario und der Zauberer,” 1995

  • Golden Camera (Germany): Golden Camera, “Hanussen,” 1991

  • Guild of German Art House Cinemas: Guild Film Award - Silver German Film (Deutscher Film, “Georg Elser - Einer aus Deutschland,” 1991

  • Fantafestival: Best Actor, “Georg Elser - Einer aus Deutschland,” 1990

  • German Film: Film Award in Gold, Outstanding Individual Achievement: Actor, “Georg Elser - Einer aus Deutschland,” 1990

  • Bavarian Film: Best Actor (Darstellerpreis), “Burning Secret,” 1989

  • Berlin International Film Festival: Berlinale Camera, 1987

  • Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, “Out of Africa,” 1986

  • Kansas City Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actor, “Out of Africa,” 1986

  • Guild of German Art House Cinemas: Guild Film Award - Gold, German Film (Deutscher Film), “Oberst Redl, 1986

  • National Board of Review: Best Supporting Actor, “Out of Africa,” 1985

  • New York Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actor, “Out of Africa,” 1985

  • German Film: Film Award in Gold, Outstanding Individual Achievement: Actor, “Oberst Redl,” 1985

  • David di Donatello: Best Foreign Actor (Migliore Attore Straniero), “Mephisto,” 1982

  • Jussi: Best Foreign Filmmaker, “Mephisto,” 1982

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