It’s been more than three decades since The NeverEnding Story fans began their “journey into a limitless universe of entertainment,” as its tagline teased. But true to the film’s title, fans’ love for the 1984 production is eternal.
The NeverEnding Story — directed and co-written by Wolfgang Petersen and based on the Michael Ende book of the same name — enthralled fans with its story of a bookworm named Bastian and young warrior named Atreyu, whose quest it is to save the world of Fantasia from “The Nothing.” The film impressed critics like Roger Ebert, who hailed it as proof that “storytelling is a neverending act of the imagination.” It also spawned two sequels, which hit the big screen in 1990 and 1994. And The NeverEnding Story has such enduring popularity that a documentary called Life After Atreyu kicked off production in 2020.
In the intervening years, some cast members have passed away — including Thomas Hill (Carl Conrad Coreander), Moses Gunn (Cairon), and Tilo Prückner (Night Hob) — but surviving NeverEnding stars are still working in Hollywood and elsewhere and are finding new ways to connect with fans. Read on for more details about what the stars of The NeverEnding Story are doing today.
After playing Bastian in The NeverEnding Story, Barret Oliver focused on photography
After playing Bastian in The NeverEnding Story — a bookworm who seeks refuge in a bookshop and dives into the world of Fantasia, Barret Oliver continued acting throughout the 1980s, though the role of Bastian was recast for The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter. Oliver’s screen credits from that decade include the movies D.A.R.Y.L. and Cocoon and a TV adaptation of The Secret Garden.
In his adult years, Oliver ventured into photography using 19th century technologies, as he explained to PhotoCulture in 2019. He said that he became a professional photographer at a time when it was becoming difficult to find materials, so he started making his own photographic developers and papers. “I’m also just a sucker for a challenge and because I have a professional photography background, I was really interested in getting things precise and accurate and repeatable, so if someone asks you to make five copies of something, they all look the same,” he added. “That’s really hard to do when you’re making things by hand.”
In the 2012 documentary short In the Usual Manner, Oliver set up shop at the Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif. to “produce hauntingly beautiful work ‘in the usual manner’ of the nineteenth-century photographer.”
Noah Hathaway's many jobs after The NeverEnding Story included a gig as a tattoo artist
You may know that Noah Hathaway continued acting after playing young warrior Atreyu in The NeverEnding Story, but did you know he played Harry Potter? Harry Potter Jr. in the 1986 film Troll, that is. “I made a better Harry Potter than Daniel Radcliffe,” Hathaway joked The News Tribune in 2015. “I was cuter.”
Since then, the actor has worked many jobs in the ensuing years — including as a mortgage broker, a martial arts instructor, a motorcycle builder, a dancer, and a tattoo artist, according to the Tribune. In fact, Hathaway revealed to the newspaper that many NeverEnding Story fans have asked for a tattoo in the design of the Auryn medallion from the film. “I wouldn’t do another Auryn (talisman) tattoo because I did 15 in three weeks,” he said. “It is very flattering though.” In 2016, Hathaway told TooFab that one man he met at a convention “had a whole Auryn backpiece from neck to butt.”
That same year, Spotify enlisted Hathaway to reprise the part of Atreyu for a TV commercial that reunited him with his character’s steed, the dragon Falkor. In the ad, Atreyu and Falkor glide through the clouds, just like old times, to the tune of Limahl’s “Never Ending Story” from the movie’s soundtrack.
Tami Stronach, aka The NeverEnding Story's Childlike Empress, is a choreographer
Like some of her costars, Tami Stronach, who played the Childlike Empress in The NeverEnding Story, has taken her creativity off screen. Stronach’s website reveals she’s the co-founder of the Paper Canoe Company, a Brooklyn-based “family entertainment content producer,” and the director of Tami Stronach Dance. According to her artist statement on the dance company’s website, Stronach “creates dance theater to better understand herself and others” with choreography that “brings into sharp focus the many contradictions of the human condition.” And Stronach’s love for her most famous role seems, well, never-ending. She also offers Never Ending Yoga classes.
Along with husband Greg Steinbruner and their daughter Maya, Stronach has also started working on the independent fantasy film Man and Witch, which is billed as “a heartwarming homage to the lo-fi fantasy films of the ’80s” and also stars Christopher Lloyd, Michael Emerson, and Sean Astin.
In a 2017 interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, Stronach said she appreciates how the Empress’ powers were wisdom, patience, and compassion. “I think that’s so exciting to tell little girls: There’s a way for you to be really, really powerful with all the attributes you currently have, because you have courage, you have wisdom, you have compassion,” she said.
Gerald McRaney is now better known for his work on Longmire and This Is Us
TV buffs will surely recognize Gerald McRaney, who played Bastian’s father in The NeverEnding Story. In recent years, the actor has taken on roles on the TV shows House of Cards, Shooter, Filthy Rich, NCIS: Los Angeles, and Longmire, among many others. Perhaps most notably, however, McRaney has enjoyed a recurring role as Dr. Nathan Katowski on This Is Us since 2016, and he earned the Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series in 2017 for his performance on the NBC drama.
McRaney reflected on his NeverEnding role in a 2015 interview with The A.V. Club, saying he immediately said yes to the part because he was already impressed with Wolfgang Petersen’s directorial work. He also discussed portraying Bastian’s father as a “distracted” parent who had narrow-minded ideas for his son’s upbringing — ideas that did not include a fantasy world. “I’ve known a few men like that, who wanted a 5-year-old to straighten out, which is ridiculous, of course,” McRaney said. “How would any of us wind up being actors or artists if he had decided to just straighten up at the age of 5? Or 35 or 55 or 65, for that matter!”
Deep Roy played 165 Oompa Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Deep Roy, the actor who played the snail-riding messenger Teeny Weeny in The NeverEnding Story, has appeared in many blockbusters over the years, including How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. He also played the alien engineer Keenser in Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Star Trek Beyond.
Roy is a frequent collaborator of Tim Burton, having acted in four of the director’s films as of this writing: Planet of the Apes, Big Fish, Corpse Bride, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. For Charlie, Roy was originally going to play four Oompa Loompas but ended up playing 165 iterations of the character, as he told It’s Just Movies. The actor also told the site that he did all the dancing for the part, after talking Burton out of using masked children for the dance routines. “I said, ‘It’s not going to work. If you put masks on them, they are going to be looking down for their marks, and what about school?'” Roy recalled. After he offered to do the work himself, Roy shared that Tim said, “That’s what I was looking for!'”
The NeverEnding Story's Alan Oppenheimer is a prolific voice actor
Alan Oppenheimer voiced four characters in The NeverEnding Story: Falkor, Rockbiter, G’mork, and the narrator. But Oppenheimer is used to playing multiple parts in the same production, as the actor told ComicBookMovie.com in 2020: “Back when I was in college and I was working at KDKA Pittsburgh, I was doing a radio show called Adventures in Research and I would play a different scientist every week, and usually a minor role along with it.”
Oppenhimer has been voicing characters on screen for five decades, including the Masters of the Universe supervillain Skeletor. In fact, he told ComicBookMovie.com that 80 percent of fans recognize him from that dastardly role — and that he enjoys recording personalized voicemail greetings as Skeletor for fans.
For the animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Oppenheimer once again showed his versatility, voicing not just Skeletor but Man-at-Arms and Mer-Man. “Many times I would do all three voices at the same time, talking to myself,” he told the site. He added, “I’d go back and forth, and we’d have a lot of fun with it that way.”
Wolfgang Petersen has multiple Hollywood blockbusters to his name
Wolfgang Peterson not only directed and co-wrote The NeverEnding Story, but he also has an uncredited cameo in the film as Man Who Drops Milk.
The German film director made a name for himself with 1981’s Das Boot, a submarine-set war film that earned him writing and directing Oscar nominations. Petersen followed Das Boot and The NeverEnding Story with a series of action-packed films: 1993’s In the Line of Fire, 1995’s Outbreak, 1997’s Air Force One, 2000’s The Perfect Storm, and 2004’s Troy. “I [did] all these films in a row, and each one was more successful than the one before. Five in a row,” he observed in a DW interview.
Then, however, came 2006’s Poseidon, a remake of the cruise ship disaster story The Poseidon Adventure, and a film that only earned $181 million against a $160 million budget. “They said, ‘Wolfgang can do anything. Just give him all the money, we’ll be fine,'” Petersen recalled. “But it wasn’t.” After a decade-long hiatus, Petersen returned to the director’s chair for the 2016 crime comedy film Vier gegen die Bank, a remake of his 1976 TV movie of the same name.
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