Peter Simonischek died on the night of 29-30 May, surrounded by his family at his home in Vienna. Only a few months ago, he had premiered his last film, Measures of Men, at the Berlinale. Madly in love with theatre, the actor had become a true legend in his homeland, also becoming internationally famous thanks to the feature film Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016).
From Jedermann to Erdmann
And so, also dear Peter Simonischek has passed away. This was unexpected news, although it had been rumoured for months that the actor was in poor health. He died on the night of 29-30 May, surrounded by his family at his home in Vienna. Only a few months ago, Simonischek had premiered his last film, Measures of Men, at the Berlinale.
Internationally, many will remember Peter SImonischek as the co-star of the feature film Toni Erdmann, directed by Maren Ade in 2016, for which he had won numerous awards, including an Österreichischer Filmpreis and an EFA. Thinking back to his character in the film, namely a playful father with a passion for cross-dressing who, in order to reconnect with his daughter (played by Sandra Hüller), an important career woman, had invented the character of Toni Erdmann by wearing a wig and dentures, it is curious to note that Simonischek, the son of a dentist, should have initially pursued the very profession of his father, who was initially against the fact that his son actually wanted to become an actor.
Time, however, has proven Peter Simonischek right. Over the years, he has become a true legend not only in film, but especially in theatre. The interpreter of feature films such as Love and Fear (Margarethe von Trotta, 1988), Ruby Red (Felix Fuchssteiner, 2013), The Mountain (Markus Imhoof, 1990), Biest (Stefan Müller, 2014) and The Interpreter (Martin Sulik, 2018), just to name a few, his true love was, in fact, theatre.
A member of the Vienna Burgtheater ensemble since 2009 and its honorary member since 2019, Peter Simonischek particularly loved direct contact with his audience. From Johann Nepomuk Nestroy to Thomas Bernhardt, the actor proved to be a particularly versatile artist over the years, perfectly capable of making every character he played alive and pulsating, both on screen and, indeed, on stage. Remaining in the theatrical sphere, therefore, it is impossible not to think of his performance in Jedermann at the Salzburg Festival, a role he played no less than 108 times.
While international notoriety only came in 2016 following Maren Ade’s feature film, in Austria Peter Simonischek had long been a true acting legend, a source of pride for his beloved country. And now that the actor has passed away, it is up to his wife (actress Brigitte Karner, married in 1989) and his three children to keep his memory alive. A task, this one, that is actually rather simple, since his audience will hardly forget him.