190216 Bruno Ganz
Bruno Ganz in 2015 Image Credit: AFP

Berlin: Bruno Ganz, the Swiss actor who gave a masterful performance as Adolf Hitler in 'Downfall', has died aged 77, his agent said Saturday.

Ganz, who died at his home in Zurich, had a distinguished career on screen and stage before his 2004 appearance in 'Downfall', which unfolds over the final, suffocating days inside Hitler's bunker.

For many critics his nuanced portrayal of the fascist tyrant that veers between explosive and sombre was unparallelled.

Hitler is a figure that German-speaking actors had historically been reluctant to take on and the Zurich-born Ganz conceded that being Swiss provided a necessary buffer.

"It helped me also that I am not German, because I could put my passport between Hitler and me," Ganz told The Arts Desk website in 2005.