Born in Altaussee or Bad Aussee, Austria. After work in national theatre and television, his starring and award winning role in Istvan Szabo's Mephisto (1981) launched his career. He followed this with parts in Never Say Never Again (1983), Out of Africa (1985) and Szabo's Redl Ezredes (1985) and Hanussen (1988). He directed his first film in 1989, Georg Elser - Einer aus Deutschland, with himself in the title role. His other film roles have been in The Lightship (1986), Streets of Gold (1986), Burning Secret (1988), The Russia House (1990), White Fang (1991), Becoming Colette (1992) and Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999).