Wolfgang Petersen biography
Date of Birth: March 14, 1941
Native to Emden Germany, Petersen began directing stage productions at Hamburg's Ernst Deutch Theatre
at age 21 while he was still an acting student. He abandoned acting to focus his efforts on directing
when he entered the Berlin Film and Television Academy where he trained for four years.
In 1970, Petersen made his TV directorial debut with I Will Kill You, Wolf, followed by six two-hour
telefeatures for the series Tatort. Among his other early successes were Smog, which aired
throughout Europe and won the 1975 Silver Prix Futura in Berlin, and Black And White, Like Day and Night, for which
he earned the award as Best Director a the Paris Film Festival in 1978.
Petersen shot to international attention as the director of the extraordinary underwater thriller,
Das Boot (The Boat). For his work on the film, the Motion Picture Academy recognized Petersen in 1982,
making him the first Best Director nominee ever to have been so honored for a German-language film. Das
Boot earned a total of six Academy Award nominations and became the highest-grossing foreign language
film ever released in the U.S. at that time.
After the success of Das Boot, he wrote and directed the lavish fantasy The Neverending Story (1984).
Then he directed the fururistic fantasy Enemy Mine (1985) starring Louis Gossett, Jr. and Dennis Quaid.
After taking permanent residence in the United States, Petersen wrote and directed the thriller Shattered
(1991), starring Tom Berenger.
In 1993, Petersen directed the suspense thriller In the Line of Fire, starring Clint Eastwood, John
Malkovich and Rene Russo. It received three Academy Award nominations.
Noted for his remarkable string of commercially and artistically successful movies, Petersen recently
directed and produced the multiple-Academy Award-nominated box office smash Air Force One (1997), starring
Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman and Glenn Close. Among his other acclaimed credits is the Warner Bros.
Pictures hit Outbreak, starring Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo and Morgan Freeman.
Petersen produced Bicentennial Man, starring Robin Williams. He executive produced Instinct,
starring Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding, Jr., and the suspense thriller Red Corner, with Richard
Gere. All are projects developed by his company, Radiant Productions, which he formed with producer
He produced and directed the epic Troy (2004), starring Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom, followed by Poseidon (2006), starring Kurt Russell and Emmy Rossum.
Wolfgang Petersen Filmography