Josef Bierbichler was born in 1948 on a farm in Amberg (Starnbergersee, Bavaria). While still a pupil at a monastery boarding school he had his first contact with the theatre, later playing in a provincial theatre company. The idea that he could make a career on the stage came relatively late, however. Bierbichler was 23 years old when he attended the Otto Falckenberg Drama School.

In the middle of the 1970s Josef Bierbichler met the playwright and director Herbert Achternbusch. This initiated a period of intensive collaboration, starting with the films ATLANTIKSCHWIMMER (1975), BIERKAMPF (1977) and SERVUS BAYERN (1977) and continuing in numerous other productions. In addition, Bierbichler has also worked with directors including Werner Herzog, Michael Haneke, Jan Schütte and Tom Tykwer.
Bierbichler has appeared in everything from cellar productions to major theatres, enjoying success in the cinema and on the most important stages of the German-language world. The jury of the drama magazine "Theater heute" has chosen Josef Bierbichler as Actor of the Year on many occasions, and the awards he has won include the Gertrude Eysoldt Ring. In 2003 Bierbichler was nominated for the German film prize as the best leading actor for HIERANKL, and he was awarded the Gold Adolf Grimme Prize.

Filmography (Selection):
2008 THE BONE MAN (Wolfgang Murnberger)
2006 WINTERREISE (Hans Steinbichler)
2003 HIERANKL (Hans Steinbichler)
CODE: UNBEKANNT (Michael Haneke)
1997 WINTERSCHLÄFER (Tom Tykwer)
PICASSO IN MÜNCHEN (Herbert Achternbusch)
1993 DIE TÖDLICHE MARIA (Tom Tykwer)
1988 WOHIN? (Herbert Achternbusch)
1983 MITTEN INS HERZ (Doris Dörrie)
1982 DAS GESPENST (Herbert Achternbusch)
1980 DER NEGER ERWIN (Herbert Achternbusch)
1979 DER KOMANTSCHE (Herbert Achternbusch)
WOYZECK (Werner Herzog
1977 BIERKAMPF (Herbert Achternbusch)
SERVUS BAYERN (Herbert Achternbusch)
1976 HERZ AUS GLAS (Werner Herzog)
1975 ATLANTIKSCHWIMMER (Herbert Achternbusch