Wolfgang Petersen

Wolfgang Petersen

Darsteller, Regie, Regie-Assistenz, Drehbuch, Sonstiges, Produzent
*14.03.1941 Emden

Biography

Wolfgang Petersen, born March 14, 1941, in Emden, grew up in Hamburg. During his time at school, he already tried to become a filmmaker and directed his first films on 8mm film. In 1960, 19-year old Petersen got a job at Hamburg's Junges Theater where he worked as an assistant director and actor for four years. At the same time, Petersen attended Hamburg's drama school and graduated in 1963.

He started to study theatre studies in 1965, but already dropped out of university after a year to study directing at the newly-set up Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (dffb). After his graduation film "Ich werde dich töten, Wolf" ("I Will Kill You, Wolf", 1971) had been shown on ARD television, Petersen often worked for TV productions in the following years. He directed several episodes of the successful TV crime film series "Tatort" for NDR, and finished ambitious TV movies like "Smog" (1973) for WDR.

In 1974, Petersen made his debut as a director on the movie screen with "Einer von uns beiden" ("One or the Other"). The psychological thriller starred Klaus Schwarzkopf and Jürgen Prochnow in the leading roles. During his career, Petersen worked repeatedly with both actors. The psychological drama about a professor who is extorted by a student won a Filmband in Gold at the 1974 German film awards.

In 1977, two films by Petersen caused a significant stir with audiences and critics alike: His "Tatort" film "Reifezeugnis", that saw a very young Nastassja Kinski as a seduced school girl, and the TV movie "Die Konsequenz" ("The Consequence") that dealt with homosexuality, at the time a taboo topic. For the conservative Bayerischer Rundfunk, the film was too provocative. Thus, the TV station took to a strong form of censorship: The station stopped the already running broadcast of the film.

In 1978, Petersen who occasionally directed commercials and Michael Bittins set up the production company Radiant-Film that produced several of Petersen's films. In 1980, Petersen received an offer from the producer Günter Rohrbach, then head of Bavaria Film, to direct a major production about the battle of submarines in World War II: "Das Boot" ("The Boat") turned out to be an enormous box office hit but received controversial reviews because of its portrayal of the submarine war. The film nevertheless won a Filmband in Silber and a Bavarian film award. In the USA, the intense drama became the by then most successful foreign language film ever and received six Academy award nominations. In 1985, the more than five hours long TV version that permitted a detailed plot development won an Emmy and the TV award of the British Film Academy.

After this overwhelming international success, Petersen was entrusted to direct the fantasy epic "Die unendliche Geschichte" ("The Neverending Story", 1984). With a budget of more than 50 million Deutsche Mark, the film version of Michael Ende's bestseller was the by then most expensive post-war film production in Germany – but at the box office alone, the film grossed 120 million Deutsche Mark and thus gave Petersen another hit film. He then received the obvious offer from Hollywood: In 1984, Petersen directed the Hollywood production "Enemy Mine". Three years later, he relocated to Santa Monica, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, and set up a US production company together with Gail Katz. After the less successful thriller "Shattered" (1991), Petersen landed his first big box office hit with the Clint Eastwood thriller "In the Line of Fire". He then further established his reputation as a precise and efficient craftsman in the director's chair and experienced director of action films with the virus thriller "Outbreak" (1995) that was inspired by George A. Romero and the action film "Air Force One" (1997). Thus, Petersen rose to the top flight of Hollywood directors.

In a way, Petersen returned to his beginnings with "A Perfect Storm" (2000). The story of fisherman boat in heavy distress at sea reminded many critics of "Das Boot". "A Perfect Storm" also became a huge box office hit, in contrast to Petersen's following films: Both his period drama "Troy" (2004), starring Brad Pitt and the disaster movie "Poseidon" (2006) underperformed at the box office.

It took almost ten years until Wolfgang Petersen started a new film project, which also marked his return to Germany as a director: The gangster comedy "Vier gegen die Bank" (2016), a remake of this 1976 TV feature film, tells the story of four unlike men who are conned by a bank director. When they can't get their money back with legal means, they decide to rob the bank. 

Filmography

2016/2017 Offene Wunde Deutscher Film
Participation
 
2016 Töne bedeuten mir mehr als Worte
Participation
 
2015/2016 Vier gegen die Bank
Director, Screenplay, Executive producer
 
2013 Ich habe mich immer eingemischt - Der Produzent Günter Rohrbach
Participation
 
2012 Der Bernd
Participation
 
2009 Mit dem Boot nach Hollywood – Wolfgang Petersen
Participation
 
2008 Ich habe den Film im Kopf - Günter Rohrbach
Participation
 
2005/2006 Poseidon
Director, Producer
 
2005 Filmlegenden. Deutsch
Participation
 
2003/2004 Troy
Director, Producer
 
2000 Bernd Eichinger. Wenn das Leben zum Kino wird
Participation
 
1999/2000 The Perfect Storm
Director, Producer
 
1996/1997 Air Force One
Director, Producer
 
1996 Hollywood, Germany - Die amerikanische Herausforderung
Participation
 
1994/1995 Outbreak
Director, Producer
 
1994/1995 Vom Tatort zur Traumfabrik. Deutsche Filmemacher zurück in Hollywood
Participation
 
1992/1993 In the Line of Fire
Director, Executive producer
 
1992/1993 The Making of "In the Line of Fire"
Participation
 
1990/1991 Tod im Spiegel
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1990 Häuser auf dem Sunset Boulevard
Participation
 
1984/1985 Enemy Mine
Director
 
1984 Von Hamburg nach Hollywood. Der Regisseur Wolfgang Petersen
Participation
 
1984 Hollywood in München
Participation
 
1983/1984 Die unendliche Geschichte
Director, Screenplay
 
1980/1981 Das Boot
Director, Screenplay
 
1978 Schwarz und weiß wie Tage und Nächte
Director, Screenplay
 
1977 Die Konsequenz
Director, Screenplay
 
1976/1977 Planübung
Director
 
1976/1977 Reifezeugnis
Director
 
1976 Vier gegen die Bank
Director, Co-author
 
1976 Hans im Glück
Director, Co-author
 
1975 Kurzschluß
Director, Co-author
 
1974/1975 Stellenweise Glatteis
Director
 
1974/1975 Die Stadt im Tal
Cast, Director
 
1974 Auf's Kreuz gelegt
Director
 
1973/1974 Einer von uns beiden
Director
 
1973 Van der Valk und die Reichen
Director
 
1972/1973 Smog
Director, Co-author
 
1972-1974 Nachtfrost
Director
 
1971/1972 Strandgut
Director
 
1971/1972 Anna und Totò
Director
 
1971-1973 Jagdrevier
Director
 
1971 Blechschaden
Director
 
1970/1971 Ich werde dich töten, Wolf
Director, Screenplay
 
1970 Sonnabend, der 1.
Miscellaneous
 
1969 Miriam
Miscellaneous
 
1968/1969 Die Rote Fahne
Director
 
1968 Ich nicht
Director, Screenplay
 
1967 Kuckucksjahre
Assistant director
 
1966/1967 Der Findling
Assistant director
 
1966/1967 Der Eine - Der Andere
Director, Screenplay
 
1965 Stadt auf Stelzen
Director