Known for his roles in such German films as Das Boot and Schtonk!, this popular actor also starred in a television miniseries titled Frank Herbert's Dune. He was the 1999 recipient of a Bavarian Film Award for Best Actor.
Early in his career, he played small roles in the 1978 film Das Ding and in the 1983 movie Büro, Büro.
He played the role of Victor in the 1990 sports movie Fire, Ice and Dynamite.
His marriage to actress Natascha Ochsenknecht resulted in three children, including two sons, Jimi and Wilson Ochsenknecht, who also had careers as actors.
He and Herbert Grönemeyer both appeared in the 1981 war movie Das Boot.