Wolfgang Petersen, Das Boot and The NeverEnding Story Director, Dead at 81

Wolfgang Petersen. Photo: Isa Foltin/WireImage

Wolfgang Petersen — the German director behind The Perfect Storm, Air Force One, and Das Boot — is dead at 81 years old. “Petersen died peacefully Friday at his Brentwood residence from pancreatic cancer, in the arms of his wife of 50 years, Maria Antoinette,” reads a statement obtained by Vulture. Petersen began his career in Germany before his breakout hit, the 1981 WWII epic Das Boot, whisked him off to Hollywood. The six-time Academy Award–nominated film gave him the opportunity to helm a number of high-budget films, including now-classics such as The NeverEnding Story, Enemy Mine, Outbreak, Air Force One, The Perfect Storm, and Troy. Born in 1941 in Emden, a coastal town in northern Germany, Petersen began his career directing short films and TV movies throughout the ’60s and ’70s, before making his feature debut in 1974 (Einer von uns beiden, or One or the Other). His first film earned him a German National Film Award for best new director before his 1977 follow-up feature — Die Konsequenz (The Consequence), a gay love story between a prisoner and the warden’s son — was initially banned from theaters due to its content. Petersen is survived by his wife, son Daniel, daughter-in-law Berit, and two grandchildren, Maja and Julien.

Wolfgang Petersen, Das Boot and Troy Director, Dead at 81