Armin Mueller-Stahl, one of the few German actors whose careers have spanned East Germany, West Germany and Hollywood, will be the recipient of the 2015 Zurich Film Festival’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. Following the award ceremony, Mueller-Stahl will present Jim Jarmusch’s NIGHT ON EARTH (1991), where he played an East German taxi driver trying his luck in New York.
His most noteworthy films include LOLA (1981), OBERST REDL (1985), MOMO (1986), MUSIC BOX (1989), NIGHT ON EARTH (1991), DAS GEISTERHAUS (1993) and SHINE (1996).
Raised in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and initially trained as a concert violinist, East Prussia-born Mueller-Stahl played the lead role in approximately 60 TV and cinema films, and became one of the most decorated GDR actors ever.
Armin Mueller-Stahl’s career came to an abrupt end when he signed the petition against the expatriation of singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann. He moved from East to West Berlin in 1980, where his career continued with roles in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s LOLA (1981) and DIE SEHNSUCHT DER VERONIKA VOSS (1982) et al.
Despite being barely able to speak English, Armin Mueller-Stahl decided to make a fresh start in the USA. His first film MUSIC BOX (1989) by Costa Gavras was both an artistic and commercial success. He received an Academy Award nomination for his role in his second Hollywood film, Barry Levinson’s AVALON (1990), and SHINE (1996), garnered him his second Academy Award nomination.
Despite his success in Hollywood, Armin Mueller-Stahl returned to Germany, where he took on such leading roles as Thomas Mann in the three-part TV series DIE MANNS – EIN JAHRHUNDERTROMAN (2001).