Johan Heldenbergh as Jan Żabiński
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 César 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 an 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 Andò’s Le Confessioni, alongside Toni Servillo, Daniel Auteuil, Connie Nielsen, and Marie-Josée Croze.
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 Jérémie and Yannick Renier. He is currently shooting a new movie with French director Antony Cordier, Gaspard va au mariage (Gaspard Is Getting Married).
He wrote and co-directed the post-WWI drama Schellebelle 1919, which starred a cast of novices.
Official Trailer: Focus Features and Niki Caro Present The Zookeeper's Wife
“There are many ways that someone can be brave and strong. I think that Antonina shows that compassion is an incredible form of strength.”
“Jessica carries this elegance with her, reminding me of an actress from the 1930s or 1940s. Sometimes I would get transfixed by how perfectly she inhabited the period.”
“Daniel is an actor of great charm who transmits intelligence on-screen in a way that is mesmerizing. But he could also show the menace that Heck was capable of.””
“Johan is dynamic, and can express so much with just a look. He is soulful.”