For the common moviegoer, they often remember their favorite film by a specific actor or even their favorite character, but behind the camera sits the person controlling it all – the director. While most know of directors like Quentin Tarantino and Steven Spielberg, many would be astonished to find out that classic films like Air Force One, Troy, The Perfect Storm, and even The NeverEnding Story all have the same director, Wolfgang Petersen. With his career dating back to the 60s, the director sadly passed away on Friday from pancreatic cancer.
The last few weeks shocked Hollywood as many notable stars passed away. They included Olivia Newton-John, Anne Heche, Nichelle Nichols, and now Wolfgang Petersen. Nominated for two Oscars during his career as a director, Petersen leaves behind his wife of 50 years, Maria Antoinette, and his son Daniel with his wife and two children.
Working alongside celebrities like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Harrison Ford, just to name a few, many sent love and support to his family during this difficult time. Most recently, Diane Lane, who worked with Wolfgang Petersen on The Perfect Storm, explained the sadness she felt after learning about the 81-year-old director passing away.
Remembering her time with him, Diane Lane said in a statement, “My heart is sad today. 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.” For Diane Lane, the director held a special place in her heart as he helped her perfect her role as the female lead in The Perfect Storm.
The One Film Wolfgang Petersen Regrets
Although known for the mark he left on the industry, in 2016, Wolfgang Petersen admitted there was one film he wished he had passed on. That film was the 2006 remake of Poseidon starring A-lister Kurt Russel.
Discussing the motive behind taking the project, Wolfgang Petersen said, “I was on a roll at that time. In the Line of Fire, Outbreak, Air Force One, Perfect Storm, Troy — I did all these films in a row, and each one was more successful than the one before. Five in a row. So they said, ‘Wolfgang can do anything. Just give him all the money, we’ll be fine.’ But it wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it, because it just doesn’t work like that. At some point you fail. … I haven’t told anybody that before.”
As for Wolfgang Petersen’s memory of The Perfect Storm, he showered the film with praise. “That was a concept that was very difficult to get through the studio system because it was very expensive. It was the biggest storm ever shown. And the story— I mean six guys on the Andrea Gail boat, who, at the end, as we all know, die. We got a lot of calls from people who said, ‘Wolfgang, don’t be crazy. This can’t work. This is a summer movie, a $150-million movie. And they all die at the end? Are you nuts? Can you at least have one, like Mark Wahlberg, survive at the end?’ But we did it.”