July 28, 2010

Ihr Macht Mich Verrückt

(l to r) Brühl, Bleibtreu, Fürmann...I think.

I revisited Tom Tykwer's The Princess and the Warrior last week and, in addition to remembering how terrific the soundtrack was, I was again confounded by the identity of German actor Benno Fürmann. Who I often confuse with the German actor Daniel Brühl. Who I often confuse with the German actor Moritz Bleibtreu. Who I often confuse with Benno Fürmann and Daniel Brühl. To make matters more confusing, all three have starred alongside the German actress Franka Potente.

It's a madly frustrating cycle, and since these three actors continue to drive me crazy (macht mich verrückt) with each movie in which they appear, I'm laying this post out primarily as a point of personal reference. Maybe it will help me finally sort out what they've each starred in. It probably won't work, but it might.

Moritz Bleibtreu (b 1971, Munich): The oldest of the trio, Bleibtreu usually plays energetic, petulant, rebellious characters. He is also the first of the three actors to whom I was introduced, as Franka Potente's boyfriend in Tom Tykwer's Lola Rennt.Two years later, he starred in Fatik Akin's underrated Im Juli. Then he was in Steven Spielberg's Munich, but I barely remember his character because I've only seen it once. He was also in the Wachowski Bros.' Speed Racer, but everyone in that was either wearing a helmet or blurred out by kaleidoscopic colors, so I can only vaguely picture him. Wouldn't you know it, Benno Fürmann was also in Speed Racer.

More recently, Bleibtreu starred as Andreas Baader in the Oscar-nominated The Baader-Meinhof Complex. He also reunited with director Fatik Akin to star in Soul Kitchen, which will be arriving in American theaters this fall.

Benno Fürmann (b 1972, Berlin): Fürmann is a commanding screen presence who typically plays brooding, quietly contemplative characters. I feel like he was familiar to me prior to The Princess and the Warrior in 2001, but looking through his filmography I have to conclude it was the first time I saw him. And, as it turns out I've actually only seen him in four films. I did not see Joyeux Noël (in which he co-starred with Daniel Brühl!), and while he was also in and out of Speed Racer alongside Bleibtreu, his turn in last year's tightly wound Jerichow was when he came back onto my radar.

Then, earlier this year, he starred in the mountain climbing epic Nordwand. It appears he also has a supporting role in this year's Farewell, which I do hope is a better spy thriller than Salt. (Which, as an aside, starred August Diehl, a German actor of the same generation who also starred in The Counterfeiters and Inglourious Basterds.)

Daniel Brühl (b 1978, Barcelona, raised in Cologne): The baby of the bunch, Brühl may have the most range in this trio, and the most promise to be a true crossover star in the years to come. Considering I still haven't seen his breakout role in 2003's Goodbye Lenin!, it would appear he made first contact with me through The Edukators, which came out the following year and has never been appreciated as the great movie that it is. Brühl was next in Joyeux Noël alongside Fürmann, but I didn't see him again until 2 Days in Paris, in which he had an amusingly bizarre role as the weirdo Adam Goldberg meets in a cafe.

Brühl started coming into the American movie-going consciousness a couple of years ago when he played Franka Potente's brother in The Bourne Ultimatum. And, in perhaps his mostly widely recognizable role to date, he played Frederick Zoller in Inglourious Basterds.

All cleared up? I desperately hope so, because my head may explode if I see the upcoming Angel Makers, starring, for the first time together in one film, Moritz Bleibtreu, Benno Fürmann, and Daniel Brühl.


  1. I loved Brühl in Basterds and Fürmann was awesome in North Face - the best movie I’ve seen in theaters this year – though it came out in Germany in 2008. Did you see it? (I wrote a post.) Angel Makers sounds interesting. I’ll see it.

  2. I agree with you on both actors in both films. I did see Nordwand and aside from some odd plot turns (I think you mentioned them in your review, such as the girl climbing the mountain tunnel), it was a riveting action thriller, and the production/stunts were eye-popping. Can't believe people used to climb like that.

    You know I didn't even read what Angel Makers was about until now, and am surprised to learn it's a comedy, or at least a dramedy.


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