Susanne Lothar suddenly dies at 51

Agence France-Presse
Germany bids farewell to the actress who effectively played 'characters that are pushed to the limit'

SUSANNE LOTHAR, in a screen grab from the trailer of 'Dust on Our Hearts' on YouTube

BERLIN, Germany – Tributes to Susanne Lothar, one of Germany’s most popular actresses and muse of two-time Cannes winner Michael Haneke, poured in Thursday, July 26, after her death at age 51.

A lawyer for her family, Christian Schertz, confirmed her death in a statement but declined to comment on when or how she had died.

Lothar, who appeared in Haneke films such as “The White Ribbon” and “Funny Games” as well as alongside Kate Winslet in “The Reader,” was known for playing vulnerable, damaged women who found hidden reserves of strength.

Austrian director Haneke frequently looked to her to embody characters that are pushed to the limit.

In “The White Ribbon” — which won the Palme d’Or in Cannes in 2009 — she played a midwife who submits to a humiliating loveless affair with the predatory town doctor.

In “Funny Games,” she starred with her husband Ulrich Muehe as a middle-class couple terrorized by two sadists during a home invasion.

She also appeared opposite Isabelle Huppert in Haneke’s harrowing “The Piano Teacher” based on a play by Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek.

In her final major film role, she will be seen in a British adaption of Tolstoy’s tragedy “Anna Karenina” starring Keira Knightly and Jude Law, due out later this year.

A celebrated character actor onstage as well as onscreen, Lothar worked with some of Europe’s most prominent theatre directors including Peter Zadek and Luc Bondy.

The daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung called her an “actress of extremes.”

“Theatre and film will no longer know in the future whom to entrust with the torn, courageous, endlessly fragile characters who live on the edge,” Der Spiegel magazine wrote in its online edition.

Acclaimed German actor Ulrich Tukur, who appeared in several stage productions with her, told German radio that she had a “dark energy” which she knew to deploy to great effect in her performances.

“There was always a lot of desperation in what she did,” he said.

Born November 15, 1960 in the northern port city of Hamburg to actor parents, Lothar later moved to Berlin where she also enjoyed doing the occasional television crime show.

Her husband Muehe died in 2007 of cancer at the age of 54.

Earlier the same year, the film “The Lives of Others” (in which he starred as an agent for East Germany’s despised Stasi secret police) won the best foreign-language film Academy Award. – Agence France-Presse

Here is the trailer of another Lothar final project, the family drama “Dust on Our Hearts”: