THE ZOOKEEPER'S WIFE
JOHAN HELDENBERGH (Jan Zabinski)
A native of Belgium, Johan Heldenbergh is an actor, playwright, screenwriter,
theatre director, film director, and musician.
As a theatre actor, he has collaborated with internationally renowned directors,
writers, and choreographers. With Arne Sierens, he founded the Compagnie Cecilia
troupe in Ghent.
His international breakthrough came with the emotional drama The Broken Circle
Breakdown, which was based on the stage play that he wrote. The movie version,
directed by Felix van Groeningen, was Academy Award-nominated for Best Foreign
Language Film and won the Cesar Award (France's Oscars equivalent) for Best
Foreign Film. Mr. Heldenbergh's powerful performance in the film brought him
Cesar and European Film Award nominations. The movie's many other accolades
around the world included the Best Screenplay and Best Actress (Veerle Baetens)
awards at the Tribeca Film Festival.
The soundtrack to The Broken Circle Breakdown was a chart-topping success in
Europe and in the U.S.; the cast and musicians, including Mr. Heldenbergh, went
on a sold-out tour together as The Broken Circle Breakdown Bluegrass Band.
As actor, he is popular not just in films but also on stage and television in
Belgium. After having starred on such series as De Ronde, he joined the cast of
the international hit drama The Tunnel for its second season.
His eclectic roster of film work has included roles in the features The
Misfortunates, also directed by Mr. van Groeningen; Moscow, Belgium, directed by
Christophe van Rompaey; Fred Grivois' Through the Air, opposite Reda Kateb and
Ludivine Sagnier; Jaco Van Dormael's The Brand New Testament; and Roberto Ando's
Le Confessioni, alongside Toni Servillo, Daniel Auteuil, Connie Nielsen, and
Mr. Heldenbergh has completed filming Bille August's 55 Steps, with Helena
Bonham Carter and Hilary Swank, and Les Carnivores, the French debut feature
from Jeremie and Yannick Renier. He is currently shooting a new movie with
French director Antony Cordier, Gaspard va au mariage (Gaspard Is Getting
He wrote and co-directed the post-WWI drama Schellebelle 1919, which starred a
cast of novices.
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