10 Things You Might Not Know About Werner Herzog

Over the course of his career, legendary director Werner Herzog (b. 1942) has made almost sixty films . Critics and fans recognized Herzog's importance as a young German filmmaker early on, but his films have attained international significance over the decades.

In Werner Herzog:Interviews, published last month, editor Eric Ames has gathered twenty-five interviews ranging from the 1960s to the present. Most of the interviews collected in this volume—some of them from Herzog's production archive and previously unpublished—appear in English for the very first time. Together, they offer an unprecedented look at Herzog's work, his career, and his public persona as it has developed and changed over time.

Below, Ames shares 10 facts about the director that even Herzog aficionados might not be familiar with.

  1. His given name is Herzog (not Stipetić). Contrary to all accounts, he never changed his name.

  2. His second film, Game in the Sand (1964) has never been shown in public.

  3. In 1966, he worked part-time as a bull rider in a Mexican rodeo.

  4. In 1968, he organized a free alternative to the International Film Festival in Berlin, renting a theater in a working-class district of the city and showing Signs of Life (1968) and other festival films at no charge.

  5. He once hypnotized a room full of spectators and showed them Fata Morgana (1969), followed by Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972), as an experiment in perception.

  6. During the media storm in Germany over the production of Fitzcarraldo (1982), he publicly threatened to set himself on fire.

  7. In 1982, he walked more than one thousand miles along the German-German border, what he would later describe as a symbolic act of unification.

  8. He might actually know the color of his own eyes. It’s stated in his passport.

  9. He is making a long-term, global documentary about last speakers of dying languages.

  10. He cast Mike Tyson and Pamela Anderson for his upcoming feature, "Jesus of Texas."