Nastassja Kinski (born 24 January 1961) is an actress who has appeared in more than 60 films, in both her native Europe and the United States. Kinksi’s starring roles include her Golden Globe Award-winning portrayal of the title character in Tess and multi-award winner Paris, Texas, one of a number of films made with German director Wim Wenders. She has also starred in a remake of erotic horror classic Cat People.
Born in Berlin as Nastassja Aglaia Nakszynski, Kinski is the daughter of the German actor Klaus Kinski from his marriage to actress Ruth Brigitte Tocki. Her parents divorced in 1968. Kinski rarely saw her father after the age of 10, and she and her mother struggled financially. They eventually lived in a commune in Munich.
Her career began in Germany as a model, during which the German New Wave actress Lisa Kreuzer helped get her the role of the dumb Mignon in Wim Wenders film The Wrong Move. In 1976, while still a teenager, she had her first two major roles: firstly in the Wolfgang Petersen directed feature-length episode Reifezeuanis of German TV crime series Tatort; then in British Hammer Film Productions horror film To the Devil… a Daughter (1976). Directed by Peter Sykes and produced by Terra-Filmkunst, it is based on the novel of the same name by Dennis Wheatley, and stars Richard Widmark, Christopher Lee, Honor Blackman and Denholm Elliott.
She has stated that, as a child, she felt exploited by the industry, telling a journalist from W Magazine, “If I had had somebody to protect me or if I had felt more secure about myself, I would not have accepted certain things. Nudity things. And inside it was just tearing me apart.”
In 1978 Kinski starred in Italian romance Stay As You Are (Cosi come sei), which New Line Cinema released in the United States in December 1979, helping Kinski to get more recognition there. Time magazine wrote that she was “simply ravishing, genuinely sexy and high-spirited without being painfully aggressive about it.” Director Roman Polanski urged Kinski to study acting with Lee Strasberg in the United States and cast her in his film, Tess (1979).
In 1982 she starred in romantic musical One from the Heart and erotic horror movie Cat People (1982), a remake of the 1942 film of the same name which starred Simone Simon. Directed by Paul Schrader, it starred Kinski and Malcolm McDowall.
The Dudley Moore comedy Unfaithfully Yours and an adaptation of John Irving’s The Hotel New Hampshire followed in 1984. Then, Paris, Texas, her most acclaimed film to date, won the top award at the Cannes. The film focuses on an amnesiac (Harry Dean Stanton) who, after mysteriously wandering out of the desert, attempts to revive his life with his brother (Dean Stockwell) and seven-year-old son, and to track down his former wife (Kinski). At the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, the film unanimously won the Palme d’Or.
During this period Kinski split her time between Europe and the United States, making big-budget bomb Moon in the Gutter (1983), Harem (1985), Torrents of Spring (1989), Exposed (1983), Maria’s Lovers (1984) and Revolution (1985).
In One from the Heart, director Francis Ford Coppola brought Kinski to the U.S. to act as a “Felliniesque circus performer to represent the twinkling evanescence of Eros”, apparently… The film failed at the box office and was a major loss for Coppola’s new studio, Zoetrope Studios.
Other appearances include Terminal Velocity, One Night Stand, Somebody is Waiting Your Friends & Neighbors, John Landis’ Susan’s Plan, The Lost Son, and Inland Empire for David Lynch.