Thomas Kretschmann (born 8 September 1962) is a German actor.
He was born in Dessau, then-East Germany, and fled the country via a month-long trek through Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Austria to circumvent the Iron Curtain. He began acting at age 25 in West Germany, starring in numerous films and television series, including Westler in 1985. He was awarded the Max Ophüls Prize for Best Young Actor for his role in Der Mitwisser, and 1993's Stalingrad cemented him as an A-lister.
He is fluent in English and has spent the latter part of his career acting mostly in English-language cinema. He has played a German soldier in World War II in eleven different movies, including two different movies called Stalingrad.
Works he's appeared in:
- Stalingrad (1993) — Lt. Hans von Witzland
- Total Recall 2070 (1999) — Nick Blanchard
- U-571 (2000) — Capt.-Lt. Gunther Wassner
- Blade II (2002) — Overlord Eli Damaskinos
- The Pianist (2002) — Captain Wilm Hosenfeld
- 24 (2003) — Max
- Immortal (2004) — Alcide Nikopol
- Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) — Major Tom Cain
- Downfall (2004) — Hermann Fegelein
- Head in the Clouds (2004) — Franz Bietrich
- King Kong (2005) — Captain Englehorn (Both the English and German dubs)
- Next (2007) — Mr. Smith
- Wanted (2008) — Cross
- Mogadischu (2008) — Captain Jürgen Schumann
- Valkyrie (2008) — Major Otto Ernst Remer
- FlashForward (2009) — Stefan Krieger
- The Cape (2011) — Gregor Molotov
- Cars 2 (2011) — Professor Z (voice)
- The River (2012) — Captain Kurt Brynildson
- Stalingrad (2013) — Kapitan Kan
- Dracula (2013) — Prof. Abraham Van Helsing
- Marvel Cinematic Universe (2014 — 2015) as Baron Wolfgang von Strucker:
- Spectre (2015) — Hannes Oberhauser (photo only)
- Jungle (2017) — Karl Ruprechter
- A Taxi Driver (2017) — Jürgen Hinzpeter (Peter)
- Ballon (2018) — Oberstleutnant Seidel
- Dragged Across Concrete (2019) — Lorentz Vogelmann
- Project Blue Book (2019) — Wernher von Braun
- Das Boot (2020) — Friedrich Berger
- Untitled fifth Indiana Jones film (2023)
Tropes associated with his works:
- Chronically Killed Actor: As many of his characters are Nazis, they rarely make it to the end of the film.
- Irony as She Is Cast: In Ballon, he plays a Stasi agent who tries to stop the East German balloon escape. Kretschmann himself was an East German escapee.
- Playing Against Type: He so frequently plays Nazis that it's a welcome break in Mogadischu where he plays the heroic pilot of Lufthansa Flight 181.
- Typecasting: He has starred in a dozen unrelated films as a Wehrmacht soldier or Nazi official during World War II, including Stalingrad, U-571, Valkyrie, The Pianist, Downfall, Eichmann, The Nazi Officer's Wife, The Sinking of the Laconia, another Stalingrad and the sequel series to Das Boot. In fairness, he usually plays them sympathetically.
- Even Wernher von Braun from Project Blue Book could count in some respect. Even if it's not set in World War II, the man was a leading rocket science figure of Nazi Germany before the USA took him in for his invaluable knowledge.
- Baron Wolfgang von Strucker took over HYDRA, which started as a Nazi organization.