Wolfgang Preiss

The career trajectory of Wolfgang Preiss is not your standard fare. Things started off in a usual enough manner: Preiss studied drama and took private acting lessons in his early 20s. He then began a career on stage, touring across his native Germany and performing in a number of different productions. He received an exemption from military service and was able to move into motion pictures in 1942's "Die grosse Liebe," Nazi Germany's most profitable film ever. In 1949, Preiss's acting career took a detour while he spent a great deal of time dubbing films into German. He made his way back to acting in 1954, and took the role of Claus von Stauffenberg in "The Plot to Assassinate Hitler," the 1955 dramatization of just that. He earned the German Film Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement by an Actor for his portrayal of the lead character in the story, which is based on true events. He also garnered some international buzz, and was able to work on high-profile Hollywood projects with filmmakers like Otto Preminger and Richard Attenborough. Nevertheless, he continued to be firmly typecast as a villainous German officer, usully vying against American heroes like Robert Mitchum and Frank Sinatra.