Wolfgang Petersen (born March 14, 1941 in Emden, Lower Saxony, Germany) is a German film director.
Petersen is best known for the classic World War II submarine warfare film Das Boot.
Wolfgang Petersen was born during World War II on 14 March 1941 in the small north German community of Emden, where the Ems River flows into the North Sea. From 1953 to 1960 Petersen attended the Johanneum school in Hamburg. In the 1960s he was directing plays at Hamburg's Ernst Deutsch Theater. After studying theater in Berlin and Hamburg, Petersen attended the Film and Television Academy in Berlin (1966-1970). His first film productions were for German television, and it was during his work on the popular German Tatort ("Crime Scene") TV series that he first met and worked with the actor J├╝rgen Prochnow - who would later appear as the U-boat captain in Das Boot.
One of his first efforts was the 1977 Die Konsequenz, a b/w 16 mm adaptation of Alexander Ziegler's autobiographical novel of pederastic love, a movie considered "one of the best `70s gay dramas." In its time it was considered so radical that when first broadcast in Germany, the Bavarian network turned off the transmitters rather than broadcast it.
Petersen's first actual full-blown Hollywood effort (also filmed at the Bavaria Studios complex in Germany), Enemy Mine (1985), was neither a critical nor a box office success. He finally hit his stride in 1993 with the assassination thriller In the Line of Fire. Starring Clint Eastwood as an angst-ridden presidential Secret Service guard, In the Line of Fire gave Petersen the box office clout he needed to direct another suspense thriller, Outbreak (1995), starring Dustin Hoffman. The 1997 Petersen blockbuster, Air Force One, did very well at the box office, while getting a mix of opinions from movie critics. In another recent project, Petersen executive-produced (but did not direct) Red Corner starring Richard Gere.
By 1998 at the age of 57, Petersen was an established Hollywood director, with the power to both re-release his classic Das Boot in a new director's cut and to helm star-studded action-thrillers such as In the Line of Fire and Air Force One for Sony Pictures' Columbia/TriStar. For both Air Force One and Outbreak (but not for The Perfect Storm) Petersen teamed up with the German cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, who has also worked frequently with director Martin Scorsese.
At the end of 2005 Petersen was cementing his image as the master of the sea epic with Poseidon (film), a re-telling of the 1969 Paul Gallico novel (and 1972 film) The Poseidon Adventure. As of December 05 the film was beginning post-production and scheduled to be released in May of 2006 by Warner Bros.
In 2006 he was scheduled to direct the film adaptation of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Since then the project has been pushed back in order to finish Poseidon.