'The NeverEnding Story' Cast Life 30 Years Since Movie Premiere
Entire generations of kids were inspired by The NeverEnding Story which spoke of the importance of a child's fantasy and imagination. In the film, the power of human imagination is an eternal source of life for the world of 'Fantasia'. Thirty-five years later, this film is beloved by many. Here's what the stars of the film are up to now!
The classic film released in 1984 was based on the fascinating novel of the same name by German author Michael Ende, with his fellow countryman Wolfgang Petersen responsible to adapt it into a film. To complete this challenging task, Petersen chose the best cast he could, focusing on the child characters that carry the heaviest emotional baggage in the film.
The 46-year-old actor played Bastian Balthazar Bux, the bullied ten-year-old boy that “accidentally” finds a magical book that drags him into an epic adventure, setting the story in motion. Oliver retired from acting in 1989 after appearing in the Tim Burton short film “Frankenweenie”, “D.A.R.Y.L”, “Cocoon”, and “Cocoon: The Return”.
He went on to become an antique photography scholar, photographer, and printer, releasing the book “A History of the Woodbury Type” in 2007. He has also done the Wet-Plate process in Ireland for a recent Guinness commercial and in Romania for the motion picture Cold Mountain. In addition, he has written articles on photography and contributed to demonstrations and workshops.
The 48-year-old actor played Atreyu, a young warrior who sets out on a mission to save Fantasia from extinction, only to discover that a human child was needed to give the Childlike Empress a name. Hathaway briefly reached teen idol status, but it proved to be too much trouble for him to handle.
After starring in “Troll” he opted to retire and try to live an ordinary life outside of the spotlight. Nevertheless, he returned to the big screen in 1994 for a moment, and from 2012 on, he has landed occasional roles in so-called “B-movies.” His last appearance to date was in 2016’s “The Chair.”
The 47-year-old actress played the Childlike Empress, the heart of the kingdom of Fantasia, who desperately need a name to save her life and fantasy itself. Her role in NeverEnding Story would be her biggest one. She has enjoyed dancing with Neta Pulvermacher and Dancers since 1996.
After her brief but unforgettable appearance in the film, Stronach didn’t return to acting until more than 20 years, when she starred in the Czech TV movie “Fredy a Zlatovlaska”. In that same country, but a decade later, she starred in “Posledni z Aporveru”, and in 2018 she played a meta-version of herself in the Hollywood drama “Ultra Low”.
The 89-year-old actor lent his voice to the benevolent lucky dragon Falkor, Atreyu’s greatest aid, as well as the terrifying Gmork, the melancholic Rockbiter, and the Narrator. Oppenheimer remains active as both actor and voice artist, with an impressive list of credits that include “Smurfs”, “Murphy Brown”, “Home Free”, “The Big O”, “Grim & Evil”, “Foxcatcher”, and “Adventure Time”.
The 62-year-old actor played Teeny Weeny, a messenger who rides a very fast giant snail. Following his role in the film, Roy continued working in the TV series “Doctor Who” until 1986, later appearing in films like “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, “Planet of the Apes”, “Big Fish”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and the “Stark Trek” franchise.
The late actress played Urgl, Engywook’s overbearing wife, a sweet a kind host in her own way. She passed away in 1998, age 88. After appearing in The NeverEnding Story” Hayes continued her prolific career, with roles in TV series like “Marjorie and Men” and “The Tomorrow People” and films like “Willow” (1988), and “Crime and Punishment” (2002).
This German actor played Nighthob, a messenger riding a narcoleptic bat. While people most definitely won't recognize him due to all the make-up work he had to dawn for his character, Prükner is actually a very well accomplished actor that has had a very long career.
In fact, he has had over 230 acting credits to his name. He started his acting career in the late 60s and most of his work has been in German films or television. This included the NeverEnding story as the film was shot in the director's home country, in what used to be West Germany as well.
BIG BUGET BIG REWARD!
When The NeverEnding Story was released, it was actually the most expensive film production in German cinema. The film that held that title prior to its release was Das Boot, which was directed by the same man, Wolfgang Petersen. It had a production price tag of about $27 million. The NeverEnding Story raked in an approximate of $100 million.
DIDN'T PLEASE THE SOURCE
The issue of "the book was better than the movie" is a pretty common reaction most people get whenever their favorite book gets adapted to film or television. You can't please everyone. But in the case of The NeverEnding Story, it was the book's author himself that hated the film.
Despite the fact that he worked with the director on the script, the story's author, Michael Ende publicly announced his dislike for the film. He organized a press conference following the film's release. In said press conference he called the film "the revolting movie", demanded not to appear on the credits, and claimed the filmmakers "just wanted to make money."
One of the things Ende was definitely not in agreement with about the film was how the Sphinx statues were depicted. Atreyu, played by Hathaway encounters two gigantic Sphinx statues that shoot lasers. "The Sphinxes are quite one of the biggest embarrassments of the film," Ende said. "They are full-bosomed strippers who sit there in the desert."
IT WASN'T ALL KUMBAYA ON SET
It's always tough working with young actors but special effects director Brian Johnson said "Barret Oliver was an absolute gem" and "Tami Stronach was fine. Hathaway was a bit of a pain in the arse, frankly. It was very difficult for Wolfgang to get anything out of him. Barret Oliver delivered all the time, he was just brilliant, absolutely brilliant."
We know that there are always two sides to every story, and Noah Hathaway has gone to express that he remembers things quite differently. In an interview with The News Tribune back in 2015, Hathaway says the Wolfgang Petersen had limited English and was a perfectionist who would require up to 40 takes before being happy with a scene.
He went on to say "a three-month movie turned into a year," Hathaway said, who noted that two iconic scenes Artax's death in the Swamp of Sadness and the introduction of the giant turtle Morla took two months to shoot. "It was a lot of work." We'll never know what really went down, but that seems like a grueling schedule.
TEACHING A HORSE A NEW TRICK
Most animals, horses included, wouldn't think twice about having to walk into deep pools of mud just for kicks. They would naturally avoid then, which is why it was so hard to shoot the Swamp of Sadness scene. It took trainers seven weeks to teach Artax to stand still on a hydraulic platform without trying to swim or run away.
The beloved mystical creature Falkore is a luckdragon. That didn't stop people from comparing him to a dog though. The film's special effects director referred to the beast as a "golden retriever/dragon." The dragon's appearance was, of course, the director's own interpretation. Giuseppe Tortora used airplane steel for the frames and the head alone weighed more than 200 pounds.
BASTIAN WAS CANADIAN
While the real world doesn't play much of a role in the events of the NeverEnding story, it is where Bastian is from. The city where he's from isn't explicitly identified, and the film was mostly filmed in Petersen's home country of Germany. In Bavaria Studios in Munich.
There are scenes that do show and give us an idea of where the hero of our story is from. The scenes of Bastian at home, in school, running away from bullies, and the bookstore were all shot in Gastown, a neighborhood in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia. This leads many to believe that Bastian was a Canuck!
NEVER ENDING INDEED
If you're not a fan of sequels then The NeverEnding Story might not be the film for you. It's a wonderful story that ends with a totally obvious hint for a follow-up. Actually the film ends at around halfway through the book's story.
If you haven't really read the book then you probably will never find out what happens to the characters. George T. Miller shot a sequel in 1990, The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter. The film includes plot points from Ende's novel. However, it adds elements that totally depart from the original story.
There's even a third film in the series, 1994's The NeverEnding Story III, but by this time people have had enough of the franchise. It only has a 3.2 out of 10 on IMDB. The story features an extended adventure and different actors. Though this storyline wasn't part of Ende's book at all.
THE FILM'S THEME SONG WAS A BANGER!
Now you might have seen Dustin and Suzzie from Netflix's Stranger Things sing an adorable and totally hilarious duet of the NeverEnding story's theme song, but did you know that the song was actually a smash hit in its own right?
The song was written by Keith Forsey, composed by Giorgio Moroder and performed in English and French by pop singer, Limahl. Not featured in the German version of the film, thanks Wolfang, the song infected everywhere else globally. The song reached the top spot on music charts in Sweden and Norway, number 17 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
TWO IMPORTANT SCENES WERE CUT
Unfortunately for most fans of the book, special effects tech wasn't was it is today back in the 80s. This meant that two very important, and cool scenes from the book had to be omitted from the script of the movie.
The first scene was the real introduction of Falkor. In the scene, Atreyu helps the luckdragon escape from a shape-shifting monster called Ygramul the Many. It was replaced by the scene where Flakor saves Atreyu in the Swamp of Sadness. The second scene was a battle between Flakor and Atreyu against four Wind Giants. That would've been cool.
TATTOOS FROM ATREYU
After being in a couple more movies as a young boy, Noah Hathaway left the world of Hollywood to try out several other careers. These included careers in finance, martial arts and as a tattoo artist. Naturally, fans would get tattoos about the film from him.
However, it somehow took a toll on Hathaway. He cited that it was kind of annoying to have to redo the same tattoos on a bunch of people. “I wouldn’t do another Auryn (talisman) tattoo because I did 15 in three weeks,” Hathaway told The News Tribune. “It is very flattering though.”
SPIELBERG HAD A HAND IN IT!
The U.S. version of the film is seven minutes shorter than Petersen's German version. This was because U.S. audience needs a faster-paced film, it was just a style thing. Wolfgang Petersen saught the help of none other than Stephen Speilberg for such a task.
Spielberg had learned his editing technique from George Lucas. “There were little snippets, bits, and pieces here and there," Petersen said, “Nothing major. Nothing that’s like ‘take the entire sequence out.’ It was just a polish kind of thing. A pacing thing; a few seconds here, a few things here.” Petersen gave Spielberg the Auryn as a thank you.
THE BOOK IS OUT THERE!
It's been reported that someone who claims to have the original prop of the book that Bastian was reading from has tried to sell the prop on eBay a couple of times. The first time was in 2012 for $75,000. The second time was in 2015 and it went up for $28,500. I think they're getting desperate.
The guy even tracked down Noah Hathaway and ask to have him pose with the book. He used the photo to help "authenticate" the listing. Neither of the two listings ended up with a sale of the book. Although, if you're a diehard NeverEnding Story fan, there may still be a chance for you te get your hands on it.