Wolfgang Petersen, 'The NeverEnding Story' and 'Das Boot' director, dies at 81


1997 filepic of Wolfgang Petersen in Munich, Germany. The German director, who achieved international fame with films 'Das Boot', 'Outbreak' and 'Air Force One', has died from pancreatic cancer. He was 81. – Photo: Reuters

German director Wolfgang Petersen, who achieved international fame with films Das Boot, Outbreak and Air Force One, has died from pancreatic cancer, a spokeswoman said. He was 81.

Petersen, who directed Hollywood A-listers including Clint Eastwood, Dustin Hoffman, George Clooney, Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt over a career spanning five decades, died in Los Angeles on Friday.

Born in Emden, Germany in 1941, Petersen scored his first major success with World War II submarine thriller Das Boot, adapted from a novel of the same name about the Battle of the Atlantic.

The film earned him two Oscar nominations at the 1983 Academy Awards, including for best director, and Petersen released his first English-language film – children's fantasy flick The NeverEnding Story – the following year.

He transitioned to Hollywood action and disaster movies in the 1990s, working with Eastwood and John Malkovich in assassination thriller In The Line Of Fire, and directing Hoffman in pandemic-themed Outbreak.

Glenn Close, who starred alongside Ford in Petersen's Air Force One, said in a statement to AFP that being directed by the German "remains a special memory."

"Even though the script was thrilling and incredibly intense, I remember a lot of laughs, especially in the scenes around the huge table in the War Room," she wrote.

"My memory is of a man full of joie de vivre who was doing what he most loved to do," added Close.

In the 2000s, Petersen directed Clooney in The Perfect Storm and Pitt in Troy.

He died at his residence in Brentwood, Los Angeles in the arms of his wife of 50 years, Maria Antoinette.

Petersen is also survived by his son Daniel, his wife Berit, and two grandchildren, Maja and Julien. – AFP

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