Géza Röhrig

Hungarian author and educator Géza Röhrig briefly dabbled in acting two decades before landing his breakout role as a concentration camp prisoner struggling with guilt in the critically acclaimed "Son of Saul" (2015). Born May 11, 1967 in Budapest, Hungary, Röhrig spent the majority of his childhood in an orphanage before being adopted by Jewish family friends at the age of 11. For a period in the 1980s, Röhrig acted on Polish television, and also fronted a punk rock band that frequently fell afoul of authorities from Hungary's Communist regime, but he soon put aside his musical aspirations to study Judaism and Polish literature. He published several books of poetry, several of which concerned the Holocaust, and continued his Judaic studies in Israel and later at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. There, he worked as a kindergarten teacher and continued to write poetry until the late 2000s, when he met Hungarian filmmaker Laszlo Nemes through a mutual acquaintance. Nemes had written a drama about a Hungarian-Jewish prisoner at Auschwitz who served as a Sonderkommando, a work detail forced by the Nazis to aid in the disposal of cremation of fellow inmates, and after spending years to securing the financing, asked Röhrig in 2013 to play a supporting role in the film. Eventually, he was cast as the lead in "Son of Saul," which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film before also capturing a Best Foreign Film Oscar nomination. For his searing performance, Röhrig took second place in the best actor races at both the Los Angeles and National Film Critics Association Awards.