Wolfgang Petersen, 'The Perfect Storm' and 'Das Boot' Director, Dead at 81

Wolfgang Petersen
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The Oscar-nominated filmmaker died Friday after a battle with cancer.

Famed German writer-director Wolfgang Petersen, best known for his films Das Boot, The Perfect Storm, In the Line of Fire and Air Force One, has died. He was 81.

The filmmaker died Friday at his home in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles after a battle with pancreatic cancer, according to Petersen’s publicist, Michelle Bega. She confirmed the news to multiple outlets on Tuesday.

Petersen had a storied career in Hollywood and global film markets. His 1981 World War II blockbuster, Das Boot, garnered him two Academy Award nominations.

However, uninterested in being pigeonholed as an action director, Petersen tried his hand at fantasy with the 1984 dark fairy-tale classic The NeverEnding Story, followed a year later by the cult classic sci-fi film Enemy Mine.

Petersen returned to helming thrillers in the '90s, with In the Line of Fire (1993), followed by the nightmarish plague tale Outbreak in 1995 -- which saw a renewed spike in popularity on streaming platforms in 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Petersen followed Outbreak with the Harrison Ford action blockbuster Air Force One in 1997, before returning to the ocean for 2000's The Perfect Storm, based on real events. He would once again tell a story about maritime disaster with his 2006 film Poseidon -- a loose remake of the 1972 disaster flick The Poseidon Adventure.

Between those, Petersen also directed Brad Pitt in one of his most celebrated action roles as the legendary Greek warrior Achilles in 2004's Troy.

In 2016, after a 10-year hiatus from directing, Petersen got behind a camera once more for his first feature-length German-language film since Das Boot, the heist comedy Vier Gegen die Bank.

He is survived by his wife, Maria, whom he wed in 1978, his son, Daniel, from his first marriage, and two grandchildren.