Klaus Kinski (born Klaus Günter Karl Nakszynski, October 18, 1926 - November 23, 1991) was a German actor and clinically verifiable psychopath.
Born in Zoppot in what was then the Free City of Danzig, Kinski was well known for his work with director Werner Herzog in such films as Fitzcarraldo, Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Woyzeck, and Nosferatu the Vampyre, 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. That note about him being a clinically verifiable psychopath? Not a joke; that's the conclusion the doctors who treated him came to.
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. As the title suggests, the two had a very tempestuous... we suppose 'friendship' is the technical term for their relationship, considering that Herzog once had to pull a gun on Kinski on-set in order to get him to behave and work.
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.
Kinski suffered a fatal heart attack on November 23, 1991 at his home in Lagunitas, California. He was 65.
- Decision Before Dawn (1951)(bit part)
- Winnetou II (1964) as David "Luke" Lucas
- Neues vom Hexer (Again the Ringer) (1965) as Edwards
- For a Few Dollars More (1965) as Wilde, the Smoker
- Doctor Zhivago (1965) as Kostoyed
- Circus of Fear (1966) as Manfred
- The Great Silence (1968) as Tigrero/Loco
- And God Said to Cain... (1970) as Gary Hamilton
- Count Dracula (1970) as Renfield
- Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) as Don Lope de Aguirre
- Jack the Ripper (1976) as Dr. Dennis Orloff/Jack the Ripper
- Operation Thunderbolt (1977) as Wilhelm
- Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) as Dracula note
- Woyzeck (1979) as Franz Woyzeck
- Venom (1981) as Jacques Müller
- Fitzcarraldo (1982) as Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald
- The Soldier (1982) as Dracha.
- The Little Drummer Girl (1984) as Martin Kurtz
- Crawlspace (1986) as Karl Gunther
Klaus Kinski's works provide examples of:
- Alliterative Name: His names begin with the letter "K".
- Production Posse: He frequently worked with Werner Herzog until his death.
- What Could Have Been: He was offered to play Major Arnold Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but he refused after reading the script, calling it "a yawn-making, boring pile of shit".