Zirner was born as son of Austrian Jewish immigrants in the United States in Urbana, Illinois. His father had fled from the Nazis. In 1976 he studied drama at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna before he made his debut as an actor at the Volkstheater in Vienna. After that he was engaged in Hanover, Wiesbaden and at the Munich Kammerspiele. His breakthrough into film was in The Promise in 1994.
He has appeared in numerous films and television films, e. g. in Café Europa (1990) by Franz Xaver Bogner, Voyager (1991) by Volker Schlöndorff, Talk of the Town (1995) by Rainer Kaufmann, Winterkind (1997) by Margarethe von Trotta, The Pharmacist (1997) by Rainer Kaufmann and The Counterfeiters by Stefan Ruzowitzky, which was awarded with the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2008. For the film Wut, he got the 2006 Grimme-Preis.
In 2009 Zirner played the transverse flute together with the Spardosen-Trio and the Theatre Program Diagnose: Jazz. In May 2011 Zirner acts in Blind Date, a play based on a film by Theo van Gogh at the Schauspielhaus Graz, a production of Bernadette Sonnenbichler.
2006 - "Special Recognition" by the German Academy of Performing Arts on the Film Festival Baden-Baden for the production team of Wut.
- 1984: Tapetenwechsel, directed by Gabriela Zerhau
- 1989: Geld
- 1990: Café Europa
- 1991: Von Gewalt keine Rede, directed by Theodor Kotulla
- 1991: Voyager
- 1994: Du bringst mich noch um, directed by Wolfram Paulus
- 1995: The Promise
- 1995: Talk of the Town
- 1996: Hannah, directed by Reinhard Schwabenitzky
- 1997: Der Wald, based on a novel by Werner Kopacka
- 1997: The Pharmacist
- 1998: Suzie Washington, directed by Florian Flicker
- 1999: Annaluise & Anton
- 2001: Mostly Martha
- 2001: Das Sams
- 2001: Taking Sides, directed by István Szabó
- 2002: Amen., directed by Costa-Gavras
- 2002: Joe and Max
- 2002: Gebürtig
- 2003: Novaks Ultimatum
- 2003: Trenck – Zwei Herzen gegen die Krone, TV, directed by Gernot Roll
- 2004: Die Kirschenkönigin, TV, directed by Rainer Kaufmann
- 2004: Liebe nach dem Tod
- 2005: Speer und Er, TV
- 2005: A Sound of Thunder
- 2005: Tara Road
- 2005: Rage
- 2005: Mutig in die neuen Zeiten, TV, directed by Harald Sicheritz
- 2006: Helen, Ted und Fred, TV, directed by Sherry Hormann
- 2007: The Counterfeiters
- 2007: Herr Bello
- 2007: Meine böse Freundin
- 2007: Contergan – Eine einzige Tablette
- 2008: Selbstgespräche
- 2008: Ein starker Abgang
- 2009: Ein Dorf sieht Mord
- 2009: Berlin 36
- 2009: So ein Schlamassel
- 2009: Schlaflos
- 2009: Meine Familie bringt mich um
- 2009: Dr. Hope – Eine Frau gibt nicht auf
- 2010: Klimawechsel (TV)
- 2010: Ein Praktikant fürs Leben
- 2011: Der Kardinal (as Franz König)
- 2012: Die Heimkehr
- 2015: Colonia Dignidad
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to August Zirner.|
- "Interview mit August Zirner: "Eigentlich bin ich ein Komiker"". stern.de. 4 August 2008. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- "August Zirner im Interview : August Zirner wollte mit Senta Berger drehen - News - moviepilot.de". moviepilot.de. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- "Movie Review - Voyager - Review/Film; A Variation on the Oedipus Theme - NYTimes.com". Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- "Fünf Adolf-Grimme-Preise für Colonia Media-Produktion "Wut"". Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- GQ. "Alles zum Thema: August Zirner - GQ". GQ. Archived from the original on 1 October 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- "Movie Review - Mostly Martha - FILM REVIEW; A Single-Minded Cook Who Wakes Up to Life - NYTimes.com". Retrieved 17 September 2014.