German director Wolfgang Petersen has died at the age of 81.
Over a career spanning five decades, he directed a slew of classics including The NeverEnding Story, The Perfect Storm, and Troy, working with the likes of Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, and Brad Pitt.
Glenn Close, who starred alongside Ford in Air Force One, told AFP News that working with Petersen 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. My memory is of a man full of joie de vivre who was doing what he most loved to do.”
Petersen made his theatrical debut in 1974 with the psychological thriller, One or the Other of Us. However, his first big success came with the West German war movie, Das Boot, which earned him two Oscar nominations at the 55th Academy Awards in 1983.
His first English language film, The NeverEnding Story, debuted in 1984 to critical acclaim and is still a beloved children’s classic to this day, going down in history for that scene with the horse.
Petersen eventually made moves into Hollywood action thrillers, making In the Line of Fire with Clint Eastwood and John Malkovich in 1993. He followed this up with Outbreak and Air Force One before a sidestep into disaster movies with The Perfect Storm and, later, Poseidon.
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“My heart is sad today,” Diane Lane, who starred in The Perfect Storm, told Deadline. “Wolfgang was a big, loving soul. A natural leader via positive encouragement; dare I say, he was a spiritual channel for us, grounding truly big stories to move us all through heights and depths. Literally, just being near him made me a better actor. My sincere condolences and love to his family.”
Petersen was first married to German actress Ursula Sieg in 1970 until their divorce in 1978. He then married Maria-Antoinette Borgel, a German script supervisor and assistant director.
He is survived by his wife, son Daniel Petersen and two grandchildren.
Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.