Creator / Klaus Kinski

"The ultimate acting is to destroy yourself."

Klaus Kinski (born Klaus Günter Karl Nakszynski, October 18, 1926 - November 23, 1991) was a German actor well known for his work with director Werner Herzog in such films as Fitzcarraldo, Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Woyzeck, and the remake of Nosferatu, along with countless other roles, including playing villains in several Spaghetti Westerns. He is also, alas, remembered for being crazier than Caligula. The man was basically the walking embodiment of id and he saw no shortage of prisons, hospitals, and asylums during his lifetime. Though hailed as a prolific and capable actor, Kinski had a reputation for being extremely difficult to work with. He raged about anything that did not suit his expectations. Werner Herzog recalls his colorful collaborations with the man in the 1999 documentary My Best Fiend.

He was the father of actress Nastassja Kinski. They reportedly had a very unpleasant relationship; her half-sister Pola claimed to have been sexually molested by Klaus for years, and Nastassja alleged that he tried to molest her too but was unsuccessful. She hardly saw him after her parents' divorce when she was ten, and after his death stated that she had lived in terror of him and was glad he was dead.

Kinski got his big break with his one-man show, Klaus Kinski is Jesus Christ Savior (a documentary about it is now on DVD, and footage appears in My Best Fiend). Notably, even while delivering a monologue about Jesus (his personal idol), Kinski still got into several spats onstage and was nearly mobbed by the entire audience.

Selected Filmography:

Tropes associated with this actor:

  • Large Ham: The man could get loud both onstage and off
  • Mad Artist: He was so enraged during the production of Fitzcarraldo that the natives offered to kill him for director Werner Herzog. And Herzog actually considered it.
    • Some years later, Herzog made a documentary recounting his adventures with Kinski during the making of this movie entitled My Best Fiendnote .