--> "''When Conrad Veidt takes a movie heroine in his arms, every woman in the audience knows that he is just as likely to choke her as kiss her. Yet there's probably not a woman in the audience who wouldn't gladly change places with the imperiled heroine.''"
-->--'''[[http://lantern.mediahist.org/catalog/hollywood31fawc_0336 Hollywood magazine, 1942]]'''

[[quoteright:237:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/veidtcollagesmall_8946.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:237:Let's face it, you've met this guy. Or someone based on him.]]

Conrad Veidt (1893-1943) was a German actor and [[TropeMakers Trope Maker]] extraordinaire. You might not know his name, but it's very likely [[WeirdAlEffect you've met someone based on one of his characters]]. In 1919, he rose to fame playing Cesare--yes, [[LooksLikeCesare that Cesare]], the somnambulist in ''Film/TheCabinetOfDrCaligari''. He followed this with a successful career playing tortured and demonic characters in the silents and later, with the advent of talkies, romantic heroes, sinister playboys and Nazi officers (despite being a staunch anti-Nazi in real life). In addition to the aforementioned Cesare, he inspired the appearance of SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker (based on his mutilated SlasherSmile in ''Film/TheManWhoLaughs''), the stereotypical NaziNobleman, and played the very first GrandVizierJafar on whom most subsequent evil Arabian Nights wizards were based.

Also, he was a certifiable {{Badass}} in real life and spent his entire adult life campaigning for various human rights causes. In 1919, he starred in [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Different_from_the_others Different From The Others]], the world's very first LGBT rights film. He had a high opinion of women and also starred in an early pro-choice film. In the Thirties, he made two films sympathetic to the plight of the Jews, which earned him personal hate mail from Hitler himself and sugary phone calls from Goebbels, who tried to persuade him into making propaganda films for the Nazis instead. In 1934, in order to stop him from making one of the films, the Nazis imprisoned him and tortured him with abuse and sleep deprivation, but he wouldn't budge. He escaped into England with his Jewish wife and continued to make films there. After war broke out, he donated his entire fortune to the Allied war effort and spent thousands of pounds helping out war children during the Blitz. In 1940, he left for Hollywood again and in a twist of irony, got repeatedly cast as Nazis. However, he accepted the parts exactly because he felt they were good propaganda against the Nazis, and sometimes donated his entire salary from the films to the British government. He personally helped several other European actors, including his {{Casablanca}} co-star Paul Henreid escape to the UK and the US by pulling strings and supporting them financially.

At the age of 50, [[SuddenDownerEnding he died suddenly of a massive heart attack]] on a Los Angeles golf course. The tropes he manifested, however, will live on...

----
!Tropes

* AllGirlsWantBadBoys: Having often been cast as smouldering villains, Veidt received mountains of fanmail from female admirers.
* AmbiguousGender: During the silent era and the heyday of gender-bending Weimar cabaret culture, Veidt was famous for being somewhat sexually ambiguous and continued to have an androgynous aura to the end of his life. One 1920s director playfully complained he had a hard time finding leading ladies to act opposite someone as pretty as Veidt. As a consequence, a lot of Veidt's characters tend to inspire HoYay readings. Whether or not the Ho Yay was intentional is a different matter entirely, especially since the cad characters of yesteryear can [[ValuesDissonance come across as camp today]].
* AntiVillain: Usually type I. [[Film/TheThiefOfBagdad Jaffar]] is a NobleDemon through and through, Karl von Marwitz and Captain Hardt are portrayed as heroic in British films despite both of them being German officers.
* AristocratsAreEvil: One of the most common types he was cast as. Audiences relished him as Nazi barons, mad counts and lascivious marquises, some of them more sinister than others.
* ATasteOfTheLash: He wields some sort of whipping implement (or gets whipped) in at least a dozen movies. Whether or not this was intentional FetishFuel, some of his movies could get [[FreudWasRight pretty kinky]].
* BastardBoyfriend: In ''A Woman's Face'' and ''Escape'', his characters' cruelty towards his girlfriends was eroticised through him manipulating and squeezing their hands, wrists and arms, at which the women would usually quiver, unable to resist him despite loathing him. Incidentally, George Cukor directed both (he was uncredited for ''Escape'', but stepped in for some of Veidt's scenes).
* ByronicHero: With his high cheekbones, PrettyBoy looks and eyes full of ''Weltschmerz'', Veidt pretty much lived and breathed this trope in the silent era. ''The Student of Prague'' (the 1926 version) is a good example.
* CostumePorn: He appeared in some of the most lavishly costumed big-budget historical dramas of the time: ''Carlos and Elisabeth'', ''Lucrezia Borgia'', ''The Student of Prague'' and ''The Indian Tomb'' were huge spectacles of silent German cinema. When he moved to the UK, he starred in ''Jew Süss'', which was one of the most expensively costumed movies ever made in Britain. In ''Film/TheThiefOfBagdad'', his costumes are among the more historically accurate ones--he wears five layers of silks and velvets at one point and it took an hour for the costume department to pleat his turbans every morning.
* CreepyLongFingers: Famous for them.
* DidNotGetTheGirl: ''Especially'' when he was playing dashing heroes or otherwise honourable men. Usually this was done to prove how noble or how tragic his character was (''Carlos and Elisabeth'', ''TheSpyInBlack'', ''Der Mann der den Mord Beging''). He actually had more of a chance of at least bedding the ladies when he played villains or otherwise morally ambivalent characters (''A Woman's Face'', ''I Was a Spy''), even if they usually escaped his clutches by the end.
* {{Doppelganger}}: Specialised in this. He played a pair of good/evil twin brothers in ''Die Brüder Schellenberg'' (Two Brothers) in 1926 and again in ''Nazi Agent'' in 1942. He was hounded by his own mirror image in ''The Student of Prague'' (1926) and also briefly doubled up for ''Carlos and Elisabeth'' and ''Film/TheManWhoLaughs'', playing his characters' fathers.
* EeriePaleSkinnedBrunette: One of the first.
* ExcessiveEvilEyeshadow: Even for silent movie standards. [[Film/TheCabinetOfDrCaligari Cesare]] pretty much originated the trope. In ''The Last Performance'', the stage hypnotist Erik wears more eyeshadow than anyone else, seemingly even when he's at home.
* EvilHand: Veidt starred in ''The Hands of Orlac'', one of the first examples of the trope, in 1924. A pianist gets the hands of a murderer grafted onto him after he loses his own in an accident.
* GayAesop: ''Different From The Others'' (1919), is the first known example in film.
* {{Gayngst}}: The cinematic UrExample in ''Different From The Others'', where Veidt plays the first explicitly-referred-to-as-homosexual (and the first sympathetic homosexual) character in movie history. Paul Körner is a musician who gets blackmailed for his homosexuality, convicted for it at court and [[spoiler: ends up committing suicide.]]
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: The [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0naUKPER8yM bondage scene]] in ''Contraband''. [[http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/339774/Woman-s-Face-A-Movie-Clip-A-Most-Generous-Gesture.html Torsten ogling two women dancing with each other]] in ''A Woman's Face''.
* {{Goth}}: The granddaddy of all tortured gothbois. His silent film performances made him one of the greatest icons of the goth subculture. If you meet someone who knows who Conrad Veidt is, it's pretty likely they're a bit of a goth.
* GrandVizierJafar: The original, in the 1940 version of ''Film/TheThiefOfBagdad''.
* HandsomeDevil: Torsten Barring, Karl von Marwitz.
* HighClassGlass: Nearly blind in his right eye from a young age, Veidt thought he would never become a leading man if he had to wear spectacles. In order to look more dashing, he opted for a monocle instead. It soon became his trademark and helped him get roles as sinister aristocrats (although Veidt was from a middle-class family himself). Apparently he was so used to wearing the monocle it would never fall off even if he was bent double and howling with laughter.
* HypnoticEyes: Several instances, most notably Jaffar and Erik the Great. Oh, and [[RasputinTheMadMonk Rasputin]].
* IcyBlueEyes: One of the most famous pairs of eyes in movie history, often used for [[CreepyBlueEyes great effect]]. Cesare's waking stare in ''The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari'' is probably the most well-known example.
* KubrickStare: Vigorously, and often. Immortalised in [[http://fantomas-en-cavale.tumblr.com/post/41115738614/conrad-veidt-par-edward-steichen-1929 this portrait]] from 1929.
* LargeHam: Justified in the silents since everyone had to exaggerate their expressions and movements since they couldn't do dialogue. But in the talkies, he did have a habit of slipping into this at times, depending on how tight a rein the directors kept on him. Even ''he'' worried whether he was overacting in The Thief of Bagdad, but then the makers of the film were such fanboys of his German Expressionist work they specifically requested silent movie-style acting from him.
** ''VINND!''
* LooksLikeCesare: ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin. He ''was'' Cesare.
* MeanCharacterNiceActor: One of the most shining examples of the trope. The man playing the swaggering Nazi officer in {{Casablanca}} and ''Escape'' personally helped his Jewish wife and her relatives escape from the clutches of the Nazis in his car under the cover of night and participated in a fund helping many, many European artists escape from persecution. Oh, and there's a persistent rumor that he identified himself as Jewish on work questionnaires. [[{{Badass}} In Nazi Germany]]. Let's just let that sink in for a bit.
* MistakenForGay: Not so much within the narratives of the movies themselves, but Google reviews of, say, Casablanca and you'll have several wondering why Strasser is gay and whether that makes Casablanca a homophobic movie. Strasser isn't actually coded as gay--and in a movie with some blatant queer coding going on with the part of Captain Renault (who steals the entire movie and ''walks off with the hero in the end'') it would've been pretty obvious if Strasser had been meant to be read as a DepravedHomosexual. Veidt was always quite androgynous and had a tendency to play just about everything in a very sensual, very sexual manner to the point of flamboyance. He was like that in real life and his bisexuality was pretty much an open secret, but that doesn't necessarily make his ''characters'' canonically gay.
** Not that the androgyny and the overwhelming HoYay aren't ''awesome'', of course. There are ''reasons'' why this guy was a big gay icon in the Twenties and has quite a few queer fans today.
* NaziNobleman: Always elegant and fond of wearing a monocle in real life, Veidt was a natural casting choice and pretty much [[TropeCodifier codified]] the stereotype.
* NoBisexuals: There are several accounts (from over three decades) of Veidt having had affairs with both women and men. Mostly, they [[BrokenBase either]] get violently dismissed by those who want to see him as a saint or then he gets claimed as completely gay by LGBT film historians with an axe to grind. Those who knew him described him as "heterosexual when sober, homosexual when drunk", or just as AnythingThatMoves.
* NotEvenBotheringWithTheAccent: Who cares if a Danish sea captain and a medieval Persian prime minister speak with thick German accents? Right?
* OfficerAndAGentleman: Several roles, most notably in ''The Spy in Black'', ''Dark Journey'', ''I Was a Spy'' and ''Der Mann Der Den Mord Beging''. Veidt often got cast as the type of character who [[IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy sacrifices love]] because of honour and/or the common good.
* OminousWalk: Veidt personally believed a character's walk was a key to deciphering his nature. He was particularly famous for his incredibly slow, catlike movements, used to great (and usually terrifying) effect in ''Film/TheCabinetOfDrCaligari'', ''Film/TheThiefOfBagdad'' and ''A Woman's Face''. (Incidentally, ChristopherLee says he based his {{Dracula}} glide on Veidt's way of moving.)
* SlasherSmile: ''Film/TheManWhoLaughs''.
* SexIsEvil: Oh, so many characters. Torsten Barring in ''A Woman's Face'' is probably the best example. He's evil, but he's also so good in bed you could kill for him. [[SarcasmMode Hot sex does that]] to a woman [[ValuesDissonance according to the 1940s.]]
* SharpDressedMan: On screen [[http://aikainkauna.tumblr.com/post/31667502528/you-know-how-many-film-and-television-stars-of and in real life]]. Often as the ManOfWealthAndTaste variation when it was one of his villains--he described Torsten Barring as "Lucifer in a tuxedo".
* SilentMovie: Still mostly known for these.
* SmokingIsGlamorous: Even in an era where EverybodySmokes was the norm, Veidt characters always seemed to smoke in an incredibly sensualist and debauched manner. To the point where some people still wonder if [[{{Casablanca}} Major Strasser]] was meant to be gay.
* SmugSnake: Again, Strasser.
* TallDarkAndHandsome: Back when it was played straight. He was a major heart-throb back in the day.
* TallDarkAndSnarky: Captain Hardt, Captain Andersen, Jaffar.
* TheCasanova: Karl von Marwitz in ''Dark Journey'', and going by the stories, [[RealitySubtext in real life as well.]]
* TheJoker: Gwynplaine in ''Film/TheManWhoLaughs''. However, Gwynplaine is a sympathetic, tragic character and doesn't really have much in common with the supervillain--it was only his appearance Bob Kane adapted for the Joker.
* ThePornomancer: Karl von Marwitz has to beat the ladies off with a stick. Torsten Barring leaves a party with three women, two of whom have just been dancing sensuously with each other. And then there was that time he played [[RasputinTheMadMonk Russia's greatest love machine.]]
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: Torsten in the attic in ''A Woman's Face'' is particularly chilling and memorable.
* ThoseWackyNazis: The pigeonhole he would be typecast into towards the end of his life. While a vehement anti-Nazi in real life, he accepted these roles solely because of propaganda reasons, to show the world what the Nazis truly were like. He refused to play Nazi characters if they were shown as sympathetic in any way, and would speak about his experiences with the real ones at the movies' press events.
** ''“This role epitomizes the cruelty and the criminal instincts and murderous trickery of the typical Nazi,”'' he said of Major Strasser (''Casablanca''). ''”I know this man well. He is a man who turned fanatic and betrayed his friends, his homeland, and himself in his lust to be somebody and to get something for nothing.”''
* UniversalHorror: Starred in ''Film/TheManWhoLaughs'' and ''The Last Performance'', Universal's last silent horrors.
* WholesomeCrossdresser: During his Berlin days, he was a regular at transvestite night spots such as the Eldorado and Silhouette. That, and apparently [[http://chrryblssmninja.tumblr.com/post/3654030373 his first wife left him because of an incident with a Parisian dress.]]
* ZombieGait: Again, [[Film/TheCabinetOfDrCaligari Cesare]] was the TropeMaker.
----