Werner Herzog is an acclaimed German filmmaker, screenwriter, actor, and opera director. He is considered one of the greatest figures in New German Cinema. Over a career spanning nearly 60 years, Herzog has established himself as a hugely influential cinematic voice, known for his ambitious art films that often depict characters with intense and extreme emotions.
Herzog’s most acclaimed films include ‘Aguirre, the Wrath of God’ (1972), ‘Nosferatu the Vampyre’ (1979), ‘Fitzcarraldo’ (1982), and ‘Rescue Dawn’ (2006). He is renowned for pushing himself and his crew to obtuse feats of endurance during filmmaking in remote and severe conditions. Herzog’s instantly recognizable voiceovers in his documentaries have made him hugely popular in internet culture.
|$1 Million +
|German film director and screenwriter
|6′ (1.83 m)
|$2 Million +
|Date Of Birth:
|Elizabeth Stipetić, Dietrich Herzog
Werner Herzog’s Net Worth
According to multiple net worth estimation websites, Werner Herzog’s current net worth is around $25 million. The majority of Herzog’s wealth comes from directing over 70 films since 1962. As an established veteran filmmaker with several critically and commercially successful films, Herzog commands respectable directing fees. Herzog also earns income through acting in films, TV shows, and his own documentaries as well as through books, lectures, and multimedia projects. Over his long and prolific career, Herzog has established himself as one of the most unconventional, creative and financially successful independent filmmakers in the world.
Werner Herzog’s Age and Early Life
Werner Herzog was born on September 5, 1942 in Munich, Germany. As of 2024, Herzog is 81 years old. Herzog grew up in remote mountain village amidst extreme poverty and destitution. He never knew his father after being abandoned before his birth. Herzog’s childhood and adolescence experiences would go on to heavily influence the themes and locations of his films.
As a teenager, Herzog worked night shifts at a steel factory to fund production of his first short films. At age 17, Herzog moved to the United States briefly believing it to be “the country where movies of meaning were being made”. He eventually returned to Germany to enroll in film school. Herzog then launched his career with his debut film ‘Herakles’ in 1962 at just 20 years old.
Werner Herzog’s Height
Werner Herzog has a lean yet imposing physical frame thanks to his considerable height. Most sources estimate the filmmaker’s height to be 6 feet 4 inches or 193 centimeters. Herzog can seem even taller due to his upright posture. His height works to Herzog’s advantage when directing, allowing him an authorial presence over his crew. It also enables him to literally get his camera into positions difficult for shorter cinematographers, a technique evident in many visually stunning Herzog films.
Werner Herzog’s Personal Life
Herzog has been married three times and has three children. His first marriage was to Martje Grohmann which lasted from 1967 to 1985. His daughter Hanna Mattes (a photographer and artist) was born in 1973 during this marriage.
Herzog was next married to Christine Maria Ebenberger from 1987 to 1997. In 1980, he also had an unmarried son named Rudolph Amos Achmed Herzog.
In 1999, Herzog married his third wife – photographer Lena Herzog, who was formerly Elena Pisetski. They have one son together, Simon Herzog, who was born in 1989.
Herzog currently lives in Los Angeles with Lena Herzog. Aside from filmmaking he enjoys activities like traveling, reading, and swimming. He dropped out of high school but later taught himself to read after a challenge from documentarian Errol Morris.
Major Works and Achievements
Some of Werner Herzog’s most acclaimed and famous films include:
- Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) – This fictional story of Spanish conquistadors descending into madness searching for El Dorado established Herzog as a force in German and world cinema. It demonstrated Herzog’s signature style of grandiose vision and landscapes combined with examinations of madness.
- Nosferatu The Vampyre (1979) – Herzog’s remake of the classic vampire tale starred Klaus Kinski and focused on themes of morality regarding the superhuman. Its moody aesthetics and Kinski’s unhinged acting cemented the Herzog-Kinski partnership.
- Fitzcarraldo (1982) – The epic story of an opera lover dragging a steamship across land to access a remote Amazonian rubber plantation. Herzog again teamed with Kinski in addition to daring camerawork and dangerous stunts, including actually hauling a ship up a mountainside without effects.
- Grizzly Man (2005) – Herzog’s style of reflective voiceover and landscape cinematography worked perfectly for this tragic documentary about bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell. It is considered one of Herzog’s greatest documentaries.
- Rescue Dawn (2006) – Herzog’s most financially successful film starred Christian Bale as prisoner of war Dieter Dengler. Dengler was shot down and captured during the Vietnam War before planning an escape. The true story and jungle settings echoed Herzog’s common theme of man vs. nature.
In addition to his filmography, Herzog has written books on film theory and his experiences. He has acted in popular films like ‘Jack Reacher’ and ‘Parks and Recreation’ allowing him to bring his unique voice to a wider audience. He has also moved into multimedia forms including radio dramas. Thanks to the internet, Herzog’s deadpan narration and philosophies from his documentaries have become widely spread memes demonstrating his huge pop culture influence.
Frequently Asked Questions about Werner Herzog
How did Werner Herzog get the ship over the mountain for Fitzcarraldo?
The 320-ton ship used in Fitzcarraldo was actually hauled over a muddy hillside with cables, pulleys, and an engine on land. Herzog was determined to film the actual ship being dragged without effects or miniatures. It was an extremely complex and dangerous endeavor that fascinated Herzog for its old-fashioned practicality.
What is Werner Herzog’s accent?
Although he is German and spent much of his early life there, Herzog’s distinctive accent is likely shaped by his worldliness and multilingualism. He lived briefly in the United States as a youth and now resides in Los Angeles. His films were also shot in diverse international locales. These influences converge to create Herzog’s one-of-a-kind accent.
Does Werner Herzog play an instrument?
Yes! Herzog reportedly enjoys playing instruments in his free time away from filmmaking. He plays the piano and is also skilled at the ancient Javanese gamelan percussion instrument. Herzog’s musical pursuits subtly carry over to the eclectic scores and sounds that help lend his films their singular atmosphere.
Is Werner Herzog friends with Errol Morris?
While they respect each other professionally, Werner Herzog and documentary filmmaker Errol Morris have a complicated relationship. They were roommates once with Herzog even partly funding one of Morris’s films. However, they famously made a pact where Morris could rename his production company if Herzog finally finished a dangerous Wisconsin trek on foot. There are disagreements on the terms being fulfilled. Herzog considers Morris a screenwriter more than documentarian while Morris believes Herzog to be dishonest but brilliant. Their friendship collapsed but some reconciliation followed thanks to director Harmony Korine playing mediator.
What does Werner Herzog whisper at the end of ‘Grizzly Man’?
In his tragic 2005 documentary Grizzly Man about the death of bear lover Timothy Treadwell, Herzog is seen listening to an audio tape Treadwell recorded getting killed by a bear. The footage cuts just before the attack but Herzog is then seen privately whispering his reaction into another tape recorder away from the camera. Thanks to lip-readers, he is roughly whispering: “The tape ends. It is the only shred of their last moments. I will not let the tape be made public. It is too terrible.” The decision echoed Herzog’s sensitivity regarding the documenting and ethics of death throughout his career.