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Bruno Ganz, the Swiss actor who played Hitler in 'Downfall', has died

AFP PHOTO/BRITTA PEDERSEN | Swiss actor Bruno Ganz holds his prize during the awarding ceremony of the 49th Golden Camera in Berlin on February 1, 2014.
AFP PHOTO/BRITTA PEDERSEN | Swiss actor Bruno Ganz holds his prize during the awarding ceremony of the 49th Golden Camera in Berlin on February 1, 2014.

Bruno Ganz, the legendary Swiss actor who gave a masterful performance as Adolf Hitler in 2004's "Downfall", has died aged 77, his agent said Saturday.

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Ganz, who died at his home in Zurich, had a distinguished career on stage and screen (including in 1987's "Wings of Desire" by Wim Wenders) before his 2004 appearance in "Downfall". The latter unfolds over the final, suffocating days inside Hitler's bunker.

For many critics his nuanced portrayal of the fascist tyrant that veers between explosive and sombre was unparallelled.

Hitler is a figure that German-speaking actors had historically been reluctant to take on and the Zurich-born Ganz conceded that being Swiss provided a necessary buffer.

"It helped me also that I am not German, because I could put my passport between Hitler and me," Ganz told The Arts Desk website in 2005.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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