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Wolfgang Petersen, blockbuster director of ‘Das Boot,’ ‘Air Force One,’ ‘Troy,’ was born in the year 1931 and unexpectedly died at age 81

Wolfgang Peterson, director of “Das Boot”, “Troy” and “Perfect Storm” among others, died at age 81.

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The German director Wolfgang Petersen, whose submarine picture “Das Boot” was nominated for an Oscar and led to Hollywood films starring Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Harrison Ford, has passed away. He was 81.

According to USA TODAY, Petersen’s manager Michelle Bega said the director passed away on Friday at his home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles after a long fight with pancreatic cancer.

Petersen, who was born in the German city of Emden, was nominated for two Academy Awards (for best director and best adapted screenplay) for his searing portrayal of a German U-boat during World War II in the 1981 film “Das Boot” (The Boat).

Hollywood was likewise intrigued by the anti-war movie.

Pitt explains the fallout from the ATV stunt in the ‘Troy’ movie, saying, “We were in trouble for that.”

Petersen then directed “In the Line of Fire,” starring Clint Eastwood as a Secret Service agent, in 1993, and “Outbreak,” starring Dustin Hoffman and set against a global pandemic virus in 1995.

In one of the most successful action movies of the ’90s, “Air Force One,” directed by Roger Peterson and starring Harrison Ford as President James Marshall, whose plane is seized by terrorists, was a huge hit.

The actress who played Vice President Kathryn Bennett, Glenn Close, recalled that during filming a scene at a massive table in the War Room, the action set was serious, but Petersen added humour.

To capture the group, “Wolfgang placed a remote-controlled camera that could rotate in place, smoothly covering all of us, one after the other,” Close said in an interview with USA TODAY. He gave you such a humorous instruction while setting up the shot that you knew the camera would pause on you. At each of us in turn, he would yell, “Acting! Acting! No acting! No acting! Acting! aaaacting!” Nobody’s time was wasted by him. In my mind, he was a happy man who was engaged in his passion.

Ford’s famous phrase from “Air Force One,” “Get off my jet!” was originally penned as interim dialogue that screenwriter Andrew Marlowe wanted to expand upon.

This is similar to the sentence “I’ll be back” that Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers in the film “Terminator.” Marlowe comments that it “didn’t look like much on the page.” However, Harrison and Wolfgang were able to turn it into a powerful line. Wolfgang had a remarkable knack for capturing the subtle majesty of the hero and the intensity of the occasion.

Petersen directed the 2000 smash film “The Perfect Storm,” starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg as shipwrecked Gloucester fishermen.

Hollywood’s “Troy,” based on Homer’s epic, was directed by Wolfgang Petersen in 2004. It starred a ripped Brad Pitt as Achilles, Eric Bana as Hector, Orlando Bloom as Paris, and “Succession” star Brian Cox as Agamemnon.

Before filming began, Pitt, who was cast as the Greek warrior hero who leads the fight against Troy, caught Petersen by surprise. Pitt grew a beard, shaved off some weight, and sported long, dark hair for his new part.

I was completely taken aback when I finally saw him,” Petersen told Vanity Fair in 2019. That’s not how Achilles looks, I cried out, and he deserved no answer.

Pitt assured Petersen over drinks at a German eatery that he would resemble Hollywood’s Achilles. The actor stuck to his plan and successfully underwent his most drastic physical alteration to date in his role as Achilles. According to an interview Pitt gave to USA TODAY earlier this year. “I sat on my (butt) for months in preparation for this part.”

The filmmaker, despite pressure from the studio to cast Nicole Kidman as Helen of Troy, decided to hire a relative unknown, the German actress Diane Kruger.

Kruger remarked in an interview with USA TODAY, “Wolfgang was one of the first directors to take a chance on me.” I’ll always remember how protective and kind he was toward me.

Bana tweeted his goodbye, saying he enjoyed working with Petersen on “Troy,” and that he and Pitt had to prepare extensively to achieve their big combat sequence without stunt performers.

The ability to vividly depict the scene that would emerge just before the one you were going to shoot was my favorite part of his directing approach. Bana said, “After that, you were more than prepared.”

Vale To wit: Wolfgang Petersen. On Troy, he was a delight to collaborate with. His ability to give a detailed description of the scene that would appear before the one you were about to shoot was one of my favorite aspects of his directing approach. Afterward, you were completely prepared. pic.twitter.com/zTFF7zAwdg August 18, 2022 — Eric Bana (@EricBana67)

One of the most costly films ever made, “Troy” had a budget of approximately $185 million. Despite negative reviews, it was one of 2004’s highest-grossing movies and made about $500 million worldwide.

Petersen’s second wife, German script supervisor and assistant director Maria-Antoinette Borgel, whom he wed in 1978, along with their son Daniel and two grandkids, survive him.

Included thanks to AP’s Jake Coyle for his contributions.

This article was published in the USA TODAY: After helming such hits as “Das Boot,” “Air Force One,” and “Troy,” Wolfgang Petersen has passed away at the age of 81.