Downfall actor Bruno Ganz dies aged 77

Actor Bruno Ganz has died aged 77.

The star – who played Adolf Hitler in 2004 movie Downfall – died at his home in Zurich on Friday after a career which spanned 50 years.

He was diagnosed with cancer of the colon in 2018, and immediately started chemotherapy, forcing him to cancel an appearance at the Salzburg Festival.

"Bruno Ganz felt extremely weak. He noted in the rehearsals that he could not live up to his own expectations," his agent Patricia Baumbauer explained at the time.

Born in Zurich to a Swiss mechanic father and a northern Italian mother, Ganz was a huge star in German language film and TV.

However, he won international applause for his role as Hitler in the Oscar-nominated Downfall, which recounted the Fuhrer’s crazed final days in his Berlin bunker as the Western Allies advanced.

The movie grossed £71million at the box office, won the BBC Four World Cinema Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

The role – and in particular the final scene of Hitler’s death -spawned a slew of social media memes and spoofs.

And Ganz spent four months studying secretly-recorded tapes and people with Parkinson’s disease – which he suspected Hitler had – in preparation for the movie.

"I cannot claim to understand Hitler. Even the witnesses who had been in the bunker with him were not really able to describe the essence of the man," he said.

"He had no pity, no compassion, no understanding of what the victims of war suffered."

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