Claudia Michelsen

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Claudia Michelsen was born in 1969 in Dresden where she spent the first 16 years of her life. She discovered her love of the theatre at a young age and, together with her close friend, Christine Hoppe, used to spend virtually every evening in the Staatsschauspiel Dresden (State Playhouse) from the age of 12 onwards. Rolf Hoppe, her friend’s father, is one of the best-known character actors in former East Germany and, for Claudia Michelsen, an artistic mentor of kinds. She only came to know her real father, the composer Udo Zimmermann, when she was 15 years old. Stepping onto the big stage was, without doubt, an obvious move. Leaving school after the 10th class, Claudia Michelsen wanted to embark on a sound, professional training as a stage carpentry apprentice at the Semper Opera House in Dresden. However, at the age of 16, she applied instead to the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts in Berlin along with Christine Hoppe.

While still a student Claudia Michelsen debuted in the cinema film ‘Die Besteigung des Chimborazo’ by Rainer Simon in 1989 and was engaged by the Berliner Volksbühne immediately after successfully completing her acting training. She worked together with well-known directors such as Heiner Müller and Frank Castorf. As a young actress at one of the major artistic and political centres in East Germany she experienced the Reunification of Germany and the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1991 she acted in the German-French production ‘Germany Year 90 Nine Zero’, directed by Jean Luc Godard. However, she remained faithful to the theatre and was only to be seen in television productions now and again. She then took on the leading role in the television play ‘Das schafft die nie’, for which she was awarded the Max Ophüls Prize for the Most Talented Young Actress in 1995.

Claudia Michelsen moved to Los Angeles in 1994 for reasons of love. For almost seven years she flew back and forth from one continent to the other – family in America, work in Germany. Although she gave up her theatre work after moving to the USA as this was difficult to fit in with family life, she continued to have a number of offers from television in Germany. She returned to Berlin in 2001 where she still lives today with her two daughters.

Her subtle, profound portraiture of human motives makes Claudia Michelsen one of the most sought-after actresses in German-speaking countries. In newspaper reviews she has been celebrated as one of the few actresses to portray women in borderline situations in an authentic and mature way with the minimum of means – both on the cinema screen and on television.

Claudia Michelsen was awarded the FIPA d’Or and has been nominated several times for the German Television Award for her convincing and powerful performance in ’12 heisst ich liebe dich’, among others. In 2013 she was awarded the Hessischer Filmpreis, the Golden Camera, as well as the Grimme Award for her portrayal of Anne Hoffmann from Dresden in the ‘GDR Drama’ series ‘Der Turm’. One year later she received her second Grimme Award for the film adaptation of the novel ‘Grenzgang’ by Stephan Thome.

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  • Stefan Klüter

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