Wolfgang Petersen's nickname is Wolfie.
Petersen is fluent in both French and German.
Petersen attended high school in Johanneum School in Hamburg, Germany from 1953 to 1960.
In 2000, Petersen created the Red Cliff Productions.
Petersen moved to California in 1987.
In 1983, Petersen was nominated for the Oscar Award for "Best Director" and "Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium" for his work on Das Boot.
In 1973, he won the German National Film Prize Best New Director for his movie Einer von uns beiden.
Having done two major films set in the sea, Petersen attributes his being drawn to water to his upbringing, having grown up with boats in Hamburg (in Northern Germany) where it is practically all about water.
From 1966 to 1970, Petersen studied at the Film and Television Academy in Berlin.
In the 1960s, Petersen directed plays at Hamburg's Ernst Deutsch Theater.
Petersen's first directorial job in German TV was with I Will Kill You, Wolf in 1970. His first feature film was Einer von uns beiden in 1973. His American movie directorial debut was with Enemy Mine in 1985.
Petersen names French writer-director Francois Truffaut to be the most important influence in his career.
In 1971, Petersen directed six episodes of the German series Tatort/Crime Scene where he first met Jurgen Prochnow, whom he later worked with in his films Consequences and Das Boot.
In 1983 his movie Das Boot (The Boot) received six Academy Award nominations. Besides the nomination for the best motion picture, he was nominated in the categories "Best Director" and "Best Screenplay".
Even though six times nominated the film didn't win any Oscar awards.
Wolfgang Petersen: There's nothing German, or even particularly European about my films.
Wolfgang Petersen: In reality, I think there aren't really such things as "bad guys" and "good guys." But it is unusual -- because movies usually tend to go more for the black-and-white situations.
Wolfgang Petersen: There is an art to casting. And I hope we will see more ensemble films. I don't like star-led films, it's much better to have more stars in one film so that the audience can see them working together.
Wolfgang Petersen: I think we should be very concerned about what's happening to our world and what nature is capable of doing.
Wolfgang Petersen: (on his being intrigued by water) Yeah, the sea has it all-mystery, danger, beauty, and power. It can be a raging monster one moment and the most beautifully tranquil, color-saturated thing the next.
Wolfgang Petersen: As a rule, [as a teen-ager in Germany] I went to the movies twice a week and also to the Sunday matinée.
Wolfgang Petersen: I like to tell big stories, but I don't like those that are too simple, too predictable. I like characters that aren't stereotypes and one-dimensional, and correspond to the reality of our increasingly complex world.
Wolfgang Petersen: In Poseidon, I try to make every single scene hit you in the stomach, playing with all the basic primal fears people have-of heights, of suffocating, of walls and water closing in.
Wolfgang Petersen: We have Batman and Superman in ourselves. We like Batman – we understand him, we suffer with him. On the other hand, we want to be Superman. But they're conflicting philosophies.
Wolfgang Petersen: (of the final ballroom scene in "Poseidon") The whole thing was just smashed to pieces; the boyish fun was making everything kaput. I really enjoyed that.
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