Director, actor, screenwriter, producer and more – Munich-born Michael Bully Herbig has been a major player in the German movie and media scene for decades. His career kicked off in the early nineties on radio, where Bully co-hosted the hugely popular morning show on Radio Gong (1992-94) and Radio Energy, Munich (1994-95). His own comedy series, Die Bayern Cops, won Herbig his first award, the BLM Hörfunkpreis (Bavarian radio award for best comedy series) in 1996 after a whopping 800 episodes.
In 1996 he founded herbX medienproduktion gmbh, a production house to showcase his varied portfolio of work, later adding his own recording studio, herbX tonstudios and the post-production company, Xframe gmbh, together with editor Alexander Dittner.
Herbig achieved his breakthrough on German TV screens with the popular comedy show Bullyparade, which ran for six seasons from 1997-2002 and earned him multiple nominations for the Golden Rose of Montreux comedy award and German Television Award.
To keep himself busy between seasons, Herbig played a lead role in the TV-movie Die Bademeister(1999), hosted the weekly radio show Bully’s Late Light Show (the first ever to be broadcast nationwide in Germany), wrote the screenplay for the TV-show Easy Bully and released his first comedy album on CD, Bully – Feines Fressi.
It was time for the big screen. In 2000 Michael Bully Herbig made his directorial debut with Erkan & Stefan, featuring the widely popular comedy duo, Erkan Maria Moosleitner and Stefan Lust. He also gave his own voice to leading llama Kuzco in Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove and released his second comedy album on CD, Unser (T)Raumschiff.
In January 1999 Bully’s brand-new film production company, herbX film gmbh, started production on the full-length feature Manitou’s Shoe (orig. Der Schuh des Manitu). Herbig wrote the screenplay, produced, directed and played not one, but two leading roles. Released in July 2001 in Germany, Manitou’s Shoe was a huge success, raking in a box office of $ 64 million and watched by an audience of close to 12 million! The Western-Comedy won Herbig a plethora of awards, including the German Film Award.
With his follow-up film, Dreamship Surprise – Period 1 (orig. (T)Raumschiff Surprise – Periode 1), released in 2004, the filmmaker achieved something extraordinary: With only two German films, Michael Bully Herbig earned over $76 million in box office and had an audience over 21 million cinemagoers rolling in the aisles with laughter. No other German producer or director had ever achieved such a feat before!
During the following years Herbig produced, directed and co-wrote two seasons of the hilarious TV comedy show, Bully & Rick, which picked up the German Comedy Award in 2005. He also played the lead role in the feature Hui Buh: the Castle Ghost (orig. Hui Buh: Das Schlossgespenst (2006)), directed by Sebastian Niemann and started production on his first 3D-animated movie, Lissi and the Wild Emperor (orig. Lissi und der wilde Kaiser), a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the vintage movies about empress Sissi of Austria. Bully became the first director in Germany to venture into 3D comedies, and it was most definitely worthwhile: Lissi and the Wild Emperor was the most successful German movie in 2007.
After winning a special award in 2002 for Manitou’s Shoe, Herbig was invited to host the Deutsche Filmpreis, the German Academy Awards for the German Motion Picture Academy. An honor that he accepted and went on to host the show for the most renowned German film award for three years running in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
In 2008 audiences could admire Bully’s acting talents alongside Gérard Depardieu in the French/German co-production Asterix at the Olympic Games, as well as in Joseph Vilsmaier’s Die Geschichte vom Brandner Kaspar. Herbig also directed the movie Vicky the Viking (orig. Wickie und die starken Männer), a live-action adaption of the popular 1970s TV-series. Six of the lead actors were picked during a casting show on German television ProSieben – a novelty and great success: Vicky the Vikingwas the highest grossing German movie in 2009 with a box office of $56 millionand over 5 million admissions.
His trophy case was filling up after numerous awards, however the most remarkable award should be the Ehrenleinwand (honorary screen) made of glass, awarded for special merit by the German Cinema Association in 2010: Michael Herbig had attracted an audience of 30 million with 5 feature films within 10 years – an absolute record!
In 2010 Bully took over the German voice of cowboy Woody, voiced by Tom Hanks in the original version, in Disney’s Toy Story 3. And a year later his very own theme park attraction opened its gates at Munich’s popular studio lot and theme park, Bavaria Filmstadt: the Bullyversum. During the first months alone over 200,000 visitors came to experience the unique 3D-adventure-world, taking them on a journey of Bully‘s work and ideas.
Over the next few years Herbig explored his acting potential with back to back lead roles in Leander Haußmann’s feature Hotel Lux (2011), Helmut Dietl‘s political satire Zettl (2012) and he made his Hollywood acting debut alongside Steve Carell and Jim Carrey in Don Scardino’s feature The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013).
Buddy (2013), his sixth feature as director, was also penned and produced by the Jack of all trades, who starred alongside German heartthrob Alexander Fehling. Herbig’s charming comedy with a very personal touch tugs at audiences’ heartstrings. Again, the production was accompanied by a TV-show, this time a sitcom, Bully makes Buddy, filmed in front of a live studio audience, which received great ratings.
In 2015 Bully entered new terrain as the new testimonial for the beloved Haribo brand of gummy bears and sweets, for which he received the Best Testimonial Award 2015 from the German Marketing Union.
In the same year he also delighted live audiences with a Germany-wide tour of his interpretation of the 1886 classical suite Carnival Of The Animals by Saint-Saëns under the motto „Classic meets Comedy“ as well as the live-show, Sounds of Bully´s Cinema, where he presented the scores of his smash movie hits performed live by the Munich Rundfunkorchestra and conducted by film score composer, Ralf Wengenmayr. The concert kicked off the 33rd Filmfest München 2015 and was broadcast live by the Bayerische Rundfunk.
His next acting gig was under the helm of German / Hollywood director, Wolfgang Petersen’s in his remake the 1976 feature Vier gegen die Bank (2016), alongside heavyweights Till Schweiger, Mathias Schweighöfer and Jan Josef Liefers.
Bullyparade – Der Film (2017), Herbig’s seventh feature as director, consisted of 5 individual episodes based upon his former hit TV-show. The movie was released on the 20th anniversary of the BullyparadeTV-show, where it immediately soared to the top of the German and Austrian movie charts – Bully’s fifth number one box-office hit. Six months later Bullyparade – Der Film broke records on Amazon PrimeVideo, with the best movie start in Germany to date on the video streaming platform.
Next Bully supported director Dennis Gansel as executive producer on the rendition of Michael Ende’s children’s classic Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver (orig. Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer), the most expensive German movie production to date. He also voiced one of the characters, Nepomuk the half-dragon.
In September 2018, after years of expansive research and thorough preparation, his eighth feature, thriller Balloon (orig. Ballon) celebrated its world premiere with high acclaim. Produced and directed by Michael Herbig, the film retells the spectacular and true escape-story from the former GDR in a homemade hot-air balloon in 1979. The star-studded thriller was sold to numerous countries mere weeks after its domestic theatrical release. Bully was presented with the German Film Award for Peace – The Bridge amongst many other awards.
After this successful delve into a new genre, the result praised by audiences and critics alike, Bully took his seat behind the microphone again. He gave his voice to an ever-optimistic lucky ladybug in the German animation film Tabaluga – The Movie, and once again dubbed leading cowboy Woody in the German version of Pixar’s Toy Story 4.
Over a decade ago, Herbig had portrayed the “Boandlkramer”, aka the Grim Reaper in Joseph Vilsmaier’s The Story of Brandner Kaspar (orig. Die Geschichte des Brandner Kaspar, 2008) and gladly slipped into the role of Personified Death once again for the sequel, Boandlkramer’s Eternal Love (orig. Der Boandlkramer und die ewige Liebe, 2020). Michael Bully Herbig co-wrote the screenplay and co-produced the comedy under Vilsmaier’s direction. This production marked the first time he shared the screen with acclaimed German comedian Hape Kerkeling. Theatrical release for this divine delight is October 29th, 2020.