Manzel, Dagmar


Dagmar Manzel was born on September 1, 1958 in Berlin, East Germany. There, she studied at the Staatliche Schauspielschule (Academy for Performing Arts) from 1977 to 1980. While still a student, she appeared in Thomas Langhoff’s student production of Urfaust and in Horst Schönemann’s play Jutta oder die Kinder von Damutz. Both productions were broadcast on television.


Manzel’s first professional engagement was with the Staatstheater Dresden. She subsequently joined the Deutsches Theater in Berlin in 1983, where she gave outstanding performances until 2001 under the direction of Frank Castorf, Carlos Medina, Alexander Lang, Thomas Langhoff, Friedo Solter and Heiner Müller. Since then, Manzel has appeared as a guest at the Deutsches Theater, as well as at the Komische Oper in Berlin (Kiss me, Kate; Im Weissen Rössl), Berliner Ensemble (Totentanz; Endstation Sehnsucht) and Münchner Kammerspiele (Traum im Herbst).


At the beginning of the 1980s, Dagmar Manzel debuted her on-screen career, playing in short student films by Herwig Kipping and Bernd Böhlich, who also cast her in other pictures later on. Her first role in a DEFA production was in the children’s movie Der junge mit dem grossen schwarzen Hund. This film was followed by notable performances of strong and diverse female characters. In 1986, she demonstrated her considerable talent with her portrayal of Claudia in Heiner Carow’s mother-daughter story So viele Träume, which was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 1987 Berlin International Film Festival. Carow also cast her in his films Coming Out—in which she plays Tanya, the wife of a young man who is discovering he is gay—and in a supporting role in Verfehlung—the love story between an East and West German in the last months before the Wall opened. In one of the last DEFA productions ever made, Tanz auf der Kippe (dir. Jürgen Brauer), she played a married woman who has an affair with a 17-year-old boy.


Since the fall of the Wall, Manzel has been sought after as an actress and worked on award-winning films with famous German directors, including Helmut Dietl (Schtonk!), Andreas Dresen, (Willenbrock) and Rainer Kaufmann (Die Apothekerin). Since 2015, she has played Chief Inspector Paula Ringelhahn in the popular TV crime series Tatort. One of her latest projects is the film adaption of Juli Zeh’s successful 2016 novel, Unterleuten; in this three-part TV mini-series about tensions in a village thirty years after German unification, Manzel is part of a top-notch cast put together by director Matti Geschonneck. She also worked with Geschonneck in Die Nachrichten, in which she plays an investigative journalist caught up in a Stasi case.


Throughout her career, Manzel has used every opportunity to combine her talent as an actress with her love of music, especially the music of the Weimar Republic. She has starred in groundbreaking operetta productions at the Komische Oper in Berlin and recorded several albums. In fall 2019, she released her latest solo album, Sehnsucht, with songs by Hanns Eisler, Friedrich Hollaender, Paul Abraham and others. That year, she also joined London’s Philharmonia Orchestra in a special concert of music of the Weimar Republic.


Dagmar Manzel, who lives in Berlin, is also well known for her audiobook performances and was honored with the 2013 German Audio Book Award for her interpretation of Christa Wolf’s novel August. In collaboration with film journalist Knut Elstermann, she published her autobiography Menschenskind in 2017; one year later, she released Mein Liederbuch, an annotated edition of her favorite songs. 

Festivals & Awards:

2006 German Film Prize for Best Actress, for Als der Fremde kam
2000 German Film Prize for Best Actress, for Klemperer – Ein Leben in Deutschland



2020 Die grosse Freiheit (The Great Freedom, TV)
2019 Unterleuten: Das zerissenes Dorf (Unterleuten: A Divided Village, TV mini-series)
2018 Gloria, die schönste Kuh meiner Schwester (Oh, Gloria, TV)
2018 Grüner wird’s nicht (It Doesn’t Get Any Greener)
2015 Besuch für Emma (A Visitor for Emma, TV)
2015-19 Tatort (Crime Scene, TV series)
2013 Mord nach Zahlen (Murder by Number, TV)
2013 Stiller Sommer (Silent Summer
2013 Krokodil (Crocodile, TV)
2011 Die Unsichtbare (Cracks in the Shell)
2011 Die verlorene Zeit (Remembrance)
2009 John Rabe
2007 Frei nach Plan (According to Plan)
2007 Freischwimmer (Head under Water)
2006 Als der Fremde kam (When the Stranger Came, TV)
2006 Nicht alle waren Mörder (Not Everyone Was a Murderer, TV)
2006 Vier Töchter (Four Daughters)
2005 Willenbrock 
2005 Die Nachrichten (News, TV)
2005 Speer und er (Speer and Hitler: The Devil’s Architect, TV mini-series)
2004 Nachbarinnen (Wanted!)
2001 Kelly Bastian – Geschichte einer Hoffnung (Kelly Bastian: A Story of Hope, TV)
2001 Goebbels und Geduldig (Goebbels and Geduldig, TV)
1999 Klemperer – Ein Leben in Deutschland (Klemperer: A Life in Germany, TV)
1998 Der Laden (The Shop, TV mini-series)
1997 Die Apothekerin (The Pharmacist)
1995 Nach Fünf im Urwald (A Jungle Out There)
1992 Verfehlung (The Mistake)
1991 Tödliche Vergangenheit (Deadly Past, TV)
1991 Schtonk!
1990 Tanz auf der Kippe (Dancing on the Dump)
1989 Der Magdalenenbaum (The Tree of Magdalena)
1989 Coming Out
1987 Die erste Reihe (The First Row, TV)
1987 Die erste Reihe. Bilder aus dem Berliner Widerstand (Front Line: Images from the Berlin Resistance, TV)
1986 So viele Träume (So Many Dreams)
1986 Der Traum vom Elch (The Dream of the Elk)
1985 Der Junge mit dem grossen schwarzen Hund (The Boy with the Big Black Dog)
1982 Die Nebelschlucht (The Foggy Gorge)
1981 Fronturlaub (Furlough)
1981 Wäre die Erde nicht rund (Were the Earth Not Round, synchronisation)
1981 Einmart (narrator)

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