Perfect Storm director Wolfgang Petersen dead at 81


One of the greatest directors of our lifetime has passed away. Academy Award nominated German Director Wolfgang Petersen has passed away at age 81.

Petersen died Friday at his home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood after a battle with pancreatic cancer, said, representative Michelle Bega.

Petersen is known for films such as Das Boot, The Neverending Story, Enemy Mine, Troy, In the Line of Fire, Outbreak, Poseidon, The Perfect Storm, and Air Force One.

Wolfgang Petersen was born on 14 March 1941 in Emden, Germany and by the 1960s he was directing plays at Hamburg’s Ernst Deutsch Theater. His first film productions were for German television, and it was during his work on the popular German Tatort (which translates to “Crime Scene”), a TV series where he first met and worked with the actor Jürgen Prochnow, who would later appear as the U-boat captain in Petersen’s famous anti-war film Das Boot which was exhibited both as a theatrical release and a TV miniseries.

Das Boot was nominated for six Academy Awards, two of which to Petersen for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for his adaptation of Lothar-Günther Buchheim’s best-selling 1973 novel. He was also nominated for a BAFTA Award and DGA Award.

Das Boot was produced in Germany and Petersen’s first foray in American filmmaking was the classic child fantasy, The Neverending Story adapted from Michael Ende’s novel of the same name. The film was about a magical book that transports its young reader into the world of Fantasia, where a dark force known as the Nothing rampages.

Petersen continued to churn out incredible films, following up The Neverending Story with Enemy Mine which starred Dennis Quaid, Louis Gossett Jr., and Brion James and Shattered which starred Tom Berenger, Bob Hoskins and Greta Scacchi. 

Shortly thereafter, Petersen kicked it up a notch with blockbusters like In the Line of Fire with Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich, and Rene Russo, Outbreak with Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo again, and Morgan Freeman, and Air Force One with Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, and Glenn Close.

In the Line of Fire was a major hit, grossing $177 million worldwide and earned three Oscar nominations.

In 2000, Peterson helmed the George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg mega-hit and the groundbreaking true-life tale of a Massachusetts swordfish boat lost at sea we know as the movie, The Perfect Storm, which featured a mindblowing 100-foot computer-generated wave and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Linda Greenlaw, the very first woman swordfish boat captain ever. 

Continuing his trend to work with the very top Hollywood A-listers, Peterson followed up The Perfect Storm with Troy, a sprawling epic film based on Homer’s Iliad that starred Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, and Orlando Bloom and earned its own Academy Award nomination.

Two years after Troy, came Poseidon about a capsized luxury ocean liner named Poseidon, and the survivors who were left to fight for their lives as they attempted to escape the sinking ship. The film, a remake of the 1972 classic, starred Richard Dreyfuss, Kurt Russell, and Emmy Rossum and earned an Academy Award nomination for Visual Effects.

His final film was 2016′s Four Against the Bank, a German film that remade Petersen’s own 1976 German TV movie, almost bringing his career around full circle. 


Hollywood Reacts

As news of his passing hit the internet, many flocked to social media to pay their respects:

Petersen was first married to German actress Ursula Sieg with whom he shared his son, Daniel. When they divorced in 1978, he married Maria-Antoinette Borgel, a German script supervisor and assistant director. He’s survived by Borgel, son Daniel Petersen and two grandchildren.

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