BERLIN: Tributes to Susanne Lothar, one of Germany's most popular actresses and a muse of two-time Cannes winner Michael Haneke, poured in Thursday after her death at the age of 51.
A lawyer for her family, Christian Schertz, confirmed her death in a statement but declined to comment on when or how she had died.
Lothar, who appeared in Haneke films such as "The White Ribbon" and "Funny Games" as well as alongside Kate Winslet in "The Reader", specialised in playing vulnerable, damaged women who found hidden reserves of strength.
The Austrian director Haneke frequently looked to her to embody characters pushed to the limit.
In "The White Ribbon", which won the Palme d'Or in Cannes in 2009, she played a midwife who submits to a humiliating loveless affair with the predatory town doctor.
In "Funny Games" she starred with her husband Ulrich Muehe as a middle-class couple terrorised by two sadists during a home invasion.
And she appeared opposite Isabelle Huppert in Haneke's harrowing "The Piano Teacher" based on a play by Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek.
In her final major film role, she will be seen in a British adaption of Tolstoy's tragedy "Anna Karenina" starring Keira Knightly and Jude Law and due out later this year.
A celebrated character actor on stage as well as the screen, Lothar worked with some of Europe's most prominent theatre directors including Peter Zadek and Luc Bondy.
The daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung called her an "actress of extremes".
"Theatre and film will no longer know in the future whom to entrust with the torn, courageous, endlessly fragile characters who live on the edge," Der Spiegel magazine wrote in its online edition.
Acclaimed German actor Ulrich Tukur, who appeared in several stage productions with her, told German radio that she had a "dark energy" which she knew to deploy to great effect in her performances.
"There was always a lot of desperation in what she did," he said.
Born November 15, 1960 in the northern port city of Hamburg to actor parents, Lothar later moved to Berlin where she also enjoyed doing the occasional television crime show.
Her husband Muehe died in 2007 of cancer at the age of 54.
Earlier the same year "The Lives of Others", in which he starred as an agent for East Germany's despised Stasi secret police, had won the best foreign-language film Academy Award. AGENCIES