04 September 2015

Rolf Hoppe

Stage and film actor Rolf Hoppe (1930) played villains in many DEFA films, produced in East-Germany.

Rolf Hoppe
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 221/69. Photo: publicity still for Spur des Falken/Trail of the Falcon (Gottfried Kolditz, 1968).


Rolf Hoppe was born in 1930 as son of a master baker in Ellrich, Thuringia, Germany. After his apprenticeship as a baker, he worked from 1945 to 1948, as a coachman.

He then started an actors’ training in Erfurt and worked in the circus Aeros. He was later engaged at the Thalia Theater in Halle (Saale) and at the Young World Theatre in Leipzig. He acted at the Staatsschauspiel Dresden, the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, and the Salzburg Festival. He was internationally active in Switzerland, Italy, and China.

From 1964 on, Rolf Hoppe often appeared in films produced by the DEFA, the state-owned film studio in the German Democratic Republic (East-Germany). One of his first films was the drama Der Frühling braucht Zeit/The Spring Takes Time (Günter Stahnke, 1966), which was banned by the Communist authorities shortly after it was released.

He played villains in different ‘Osterns’ (Easterns - the typical Eastern Bloc countries' take on the Western). An example is Spur des Falken/Trail of the Falcon (Gottfried Kolditz, 1968), starring Gojko Mitic as the Indian hero. He also appeared in other Mitic films, Weiße Wölfe/White Wolves (Konrad Petzold, Bosko Boskovic, 1969), one of the most popular DEFA films ever, and Tödlicher Irrtum/Fatal error (Konrad Petzold, 1970), also with Armin Müller-Stahl.

Armin Mueller-Stahl, Rolf Hoppe and Bruno O'Ya in Tödlicher Irrtum (1970)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 65/70. Photo: DEFA / Blümel. Publicity still for Tödlicher Irrtum/Fatal Error (Konrad Petzold, 1970) with Armin Mueller-Stahl and Bruno O'Ya.


In 1971, Rolf Hoppe was awarded the National Prize of East Germany for artistic achievement. The following year, he appeared in the East-German Science Fiction film Eolomea (Herrmann Zschoche 1972) with Cox Habbema.

One of his most notable roles was that of the Tábornagy (Hermann Göring) in Mephisto (István Szabó, 1981), a film adaptation of Klaus Mann's novel Mephisto, starring Klaus Maria Brandauer as Hendrik Höfgen. The film was awarded the 1981 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

His later films include the crime film Ärztinnen/Woman Doctors (Horst Seemann, 1984), the drama Das Haus am Fluß/The House at the River (Roland Gräf, 1986) and the East German–Swiss drama Pestalozzis Berg/Pestalozzi's Mountain (Peter von Gunten, 1989) featuring Gian Maria Volonté. All three films were entered into editions of the Berlin International Film Festival.

Hoppe had a supporting part in the satire Schtonk! (Helmut Dietl, 1992), a retelling of the hoax of the Hitler Diaries, starring Götz George. He also had a part in another German success of the 1990s, Comedian Harmonists/The Harmonists (Joseph Vilsmaier, 1997), about the popular German vocal group the Comedian Harmonists of the 1920s and 1930s.

He then appeared in the Neo-Noir Palmetto (Volker Schlöndorff, 1998), based on the novel Just Another Sucker by James Hadley Chase. The film stars Woody Harrelson, Elisabeth Shue and Gina Gershon. Also interesting is the Jewish comedy Alles auf Zucker!/Go for Zucker (Dani Levy, 2004). Director Dani Levy, himself Jewish, made an ironic comedy about modern Jewish identity in present-day Germany. It was critically acclaimed in Germany and won a number of awards.

Hoppe also did a lot of TV work. He appeared in several Krimi series, including Tatort (1994-2003), Polizeiruf 110 (1996) and Donna Leon (2004). Rolf Hoppe lives in Weißig in Dresden. Since 1962, he is married with Friederike and they have two daughters, Josephine and Christine. Christine Hoppe (1968), is also an actress. Rolf and Friederike Hoppe reside in Weißig, a district of Dresden.

German trailer for Spur des Falken/Trail of the Falcon (Gottfried Kolditz, 1968). Here named Brennende Zelte in den Schwarzen Bergen. Source: Spannick (YouTube).

American trailer for Mephisto (István Szabó, 1981). Source: Video Detective (YouTube).

Scene from Comedian Harmonists/The Harmonists (Joseph Vilsmaier, 1997). Source: lejukeboxer1 (YouTube).

Sources: FilmZeit.de (German), DEFA-Sternstunden (German), Wikipedia and IMDb.

1 comment:

Beth Niquette said...

What a wonderful postcard. He had such a great face. Thank you so much for posting. Thanks for missing me last week. I was out of town and wasn't able to post. Next time I'll schedule it in so I won't miss a beat! It is nice to be missed!

Have a lovely weekend.