Wolfgang Petersen, 'Das Boot' and 'Air Force One' director, dies at 81

CIRCA 1997: Director Wolfgang Petersen holds up his directors cut of the movie "Das Boot " , circa 1997. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Private funeral services were pending Tuesday for Wolfgang Petersen, who scored a pair of Oscar nominations for writing and directing the tension-filled German-language U-boat drama "Das Boot" and went on to helm action hits such as "Air Force One," "Troy" and "In the Line of Fire."

Petersen died Friday from pancreatic cancer at his home in Brentwood at age 81, according to a representative, who said the filmmaker died in the arms of his wife of 50 years, Maria Antoinette.

The German-born director parlayed the success of 1981's "Das Boot" into a series of big-budget Hollywood films, beginning with "The NeverEnding Story" in 1984, followed a year later by "Enemy Mine," which faltered at the box office and among critics.

Petersen found success again in 1993 with the thriller "In the Line of Fire," starring Clint Eastwood as a veteran Secret Service agent haunted by his failure to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and tormented by another would-be assassin portrayed by John Malkovich.

That film began a string of hits for Petersen, including the 1995 contagion drama "Outbreak," the 1997 Harrison Ford thriller "Air Force One," the 2000 George Clooney lost-at-sea adventure "The Perfect Storm" and the 2004 Brad Pitt mythology blockbuster "Troy."

In 2006, he helmed "Poseidon," a big-budget remake of the classic capsized-ship disaster film "The Poseidon Adventure." The film struggled to earn a box office following, and it marked Petersen's last Hollywood directing effort.

In addition to his wife, Petersen is survived by his son Daniel, daughter-in-law Berit and grandchildren Maja and Julien.