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THOMAS KRETSCHMANN (Cross) was born in a no-man's-land—a piece of land that has switched hands over the last 50 years…first Germany, then Poland, then Russia. In East Germany, where he trained as a teen to be an Olympic swimmer, he set numerous international swimming records, but instead he decided to pursue an acting career. At 20 years old, he was able to escape by foot through Hungary, Yugoslavia and Austria to West Berlin to begin a new life without the regimentation of communism— where he received political asylum. After three years of odd jobs and acting classes, he was invited to be a member of the Schillertheater (Germany's equivalent of England's Royal Shakespeare Company).

In 1991, he made his film debut in Der Mitwisser, which earned him Germany's prestigious Max Ophüls Prize as Best Up-and-Coming Actor for his performance. When he appeared in the World War II epic Stalingrad (made by the producers of Das Boot), his performance launched him into the international limelight. He went on to star in Queen Margot, Marching in Darkness, Dario Argento's The Stendhal Syndrome and Prince Valiant, to name a few of his more internationally known credits. American audiences were introduced to Kretschmann in Universal's U-571, directed by Jonathan Mostow. He then went on to star in Blade II, directed by Guillermo del Toro. He starred opposite Adrien Brody in the Oscar®-winning film The Pianist, directed by Roman Polanski. Peter Jackson's King Kong followed, as well as Lee Tamahori's Next.

Although Kretschmann has done limited television work, he did portray the title role in the telefilm Have No Fear: The Life of Pope John Paul II. Kretschmann will next be seen in The Young Victoria, opposite Emily Blunt. He just wrapped shooting in Germany in the upcoming Tom Cruise film Valkyrie. Kretschmann makes his home in Los Angeles with his wife and three children.

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