German actor Ulrich Muehe, the star of Oscar-winning film The Lives of Others, has died at the age of 54.
Muehe said living under Communist rule informed his performance
A well-known TV and theatre actor in his homeland, he had been receiving treatment for stomach cancer.
Muehe's performance as a Stasi agent who secretly protects a dissident playwright won him a best actor prize at the European Film Awards in 2006.
His other films included 1997's Funny Games, in which he appeared with his wife, actress Susanne Lothar.
Muehe died at his home in Walbeck in the state of Saxony-Anhalt on Sunday.
On the same day a German newspaper published an interview with the actor in which he confirmed his illness.
Born in Grimma in the former East Germany, Muehe trained as a construction worker before serving in the military.
According to Der Spiegel newspaper, his duties included serving as a guard along the Berlin Wall.
A veteran of German theatre, Muehe had roles in more than 30 films.
He is survived by his actress wife Susanne Lothar
However, it was his role as conflicted East German secret police agent Gerd Wiesler in The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) for which he will be best remembered.
Muehe said his experience of living under Communist rule had helped him portray the character.
Despite his illness, he flew to Hollywood with director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck in April to see the drama win the Oscar for best foreign language film.
He is survived by his wife and their two children, plus another child from his earlier marriage to actress Jenny Groellmann.