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Werner Herzog Biography

Birth Name:
Werner Herzog Stipetic
Birth Place:
Munich, Germany
Director, producer, screenwriter, actor

Fast Facts

  • Worked nights as a welder in a steel factory in order to finance his first film, 1962 short Herakles
  • Traveled from Germany to attend Pittsburgh's Duquesne University but quit after just three days; Herzog subsequently lost the Fullbright scholarship on which he was attending, as well as his visa
  • Along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders and Volker Schlondorff, was one of the leading figures in the German cinema's New Wave of the late 1960s and 1970s
  • Breakthrough film was 1972 historical drama Aguirre, the Wrath of God, notable for its exotic locations and stunning landscapes captured under arduous circumstances, both Herzog trademarks
  • Had a love/hate relationship with Polish actor Klaus Kinski, whom he directed in five films and made a documentary about titled My Best Fiend (1999)
  • Appeared in Les Blank's documentary Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980), in which he did as the title describes in order to settle a bet with filmmaker Errol Morris
  • Was wounded during a 2006 interview with the BBC when he was shot with an air rifle; he called the shot an "insignificant bullet
  • " Has staged several operas around the world and written many books


  • 2009Independent Spirit Awards-Best Documentary: nominated
  • 2008Oscar-Best Documentary (Feature): nominated
  • 2006Independent Spirit Awards-Best Documentary: nominated
  • 2005Sundance Film Festival-Alfred P. Sloan Prize: winner
  • 2005Directors Guild of America Awards-Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary: winner
  • 1999Emmy-Outstanding Non-Fiction Special: nominated
  • 1983BAFTA Film Awards-Best Foreign Language Film: nominated
  • 1982Cannes Film Festival-Best Director: winner
  • 1979Berlin Film Festival-Silver Bear for an Outstanding Artistic Contribution: winner
  • 1976César Awards-Best Foreign Film: nominated
  • 1975Cannes Film Festival-Special Jury Grand Prix: winner
  • 1968Berlin Film Festival-Silver Bear - Special Jury Prize: winner