The actor Peter Reusse is dead. He died on Saturday at the age of 81 after a short, serious illness, as the German Press Agency learned from the family on Monday.

Reusse made a career in films and on stage, especially in the GDR. Because of the youthfulness of his roles in the 60s and 70s, he was sometimes referred to as the “James Dean of the East”.

Reusse came from Teltow. After studying at the Babelsberg Film School, he acted in various theaters in the GDR. In 1970 he became a permanent member of the ensemble at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin. For example, he played Claudio in Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure”, Lord Gray in “Richard III.” or Glimkin in Gorki’s “The False Coin”.

Reusse took on his first leading role in front of the camera in 1965 in “Don’t think, I’m crying” by Frank Vogel. After trial screenings, the film about the problems of post-war youth in the GDR ended up in the poison cupboard until reunification. It was twelve years before the next leading role in a Defa film. In 1977 he played an LPG farmer and party secretary under Roland Oehme in the comedy “A crazy scent of fresh hay”. Reusse was also seen in GDR television productions.

The actor became politically active during the period of reunification and supported the Citizens’ Committee for the Investigation of Stasi Crimes. After the unit he played with Iris Berben, Nadja Tiller and Charles Aznavour.

The year 1993 marked a deep turning point. Reusse collapsed in the Deutsches Theater during rehearsals for Der Eismann. Memory loss, personal crisis, and the end of his career as an actor followed. A time as a painter and sculptor began for Reusse, he wrote poems, stories (“Here and over there and below”), novels, screenplays and diary entries (“Der Eismann geht”).

“I’m directing myself now,” he once said during a reading. The post-reunification period provided the material for several manuscripts, including the film comedy “Late Answer”.