Wolfgang Petersen, director of 'Das Boot' and 'Air Force One,' dead at 81

Wolfgang Petersen, director of ‘Das Boot’ and ‘Air Force One,’ dead at 81

Petersen, a German filmmaker, earned the most awards acclaim in his career for his 1981 World War II epic “Das Boot,” but his career is populated by a number of films that hold special places in the hearts of cult action film lovers.

After writing and directing 1984’s children’s fantasy film “The NeverEnding Story,” he went on to make a string of action films with some of the biggest stars of their eras, like “In the Line of Fire” (starring Clint Eastwood and Rene Russo), “Outbreak” (with Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman and Russo) and “Air Force One” (with Harrison Ford and Glenn Close).

In the aughts, he continued the trend, helming “The Perfect Storm” with George Clooney and “Troy” with Brad Pitt and “Poseidon.”

“Being directed by Wolfgang on ‘Air Force One’ remains a special memory,” actress Glenn Close said in a statement provided to CNN. “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.”

Petersen, she said, would set up a remote-controlled camera that could rotate in place, enabling him to film all the actors and Petersen wiould provide them cues when they were being filmed.

“You knew the camera would pause on you by his hilarious direction while setting up the shot. He would point to us in turn and say, ‘Acting…acting…NO acting…NO acting…ACTING… aaaacting!'” she recalled. “He didn’t waste anyone’s time. My memory is of a man full of joie de vivre who was doing what he most loved to do.”

Petersen is survived by his wife, Maria Antoinette, son Daniel and two grandchildren, according to his spokesperson.

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