The Backstage Magic of The NeverEnding Story

One of the most charming children’s movies of the 1980s is the beloved fantasy tale, The NeverEnding Story. The film follows a young boy named Bastian who reads a book about a warrior tasked with preventing “the Nothing” from consuming his magical world! The family film is adored by kids and adults. The mythical tale introduced us to an array of memorable characters, like Atreyu, the Moon Child, and Teeny Weeny.

Noah Hathaway / Tami Stronach, Noah Hathaway / Noah Hathaway / Noah Hathaway

This movie is filled with enchanted fantasy, magical creatures, and wonderful moments that either make us laugh out loud or traumatize us for life (if you saw the film, you know which scene I’m referring to). If you want to escape reality, join us on our exciting journey into the behind-the-scenes magic of The NeverEnding Story.

The Most Expensive Movie in German Cinema

If you’re an American fan, you may not know that The NeverEnding Story is technically a German film. It was directed by famed German director Wolfgang Petersen and shot mostly in Germany. Petersen’s most successful movie before this one was Das Boot, which at the time was the most expensive film in German cinematic history.

Noah Hathaway stands next to the white dragon in a scene from the film.
Noah Hathaway. Photo by dpa/picture alliance/Getty Images

Trying to outdo himself, Peterson had a massive budget for The NeverEnding Story, easily surpassing his Das Boot budget. Production spent $27 million! Sure, that may not seem like a lot now, but if you calculate inflation, $27 million in 1984 is equivalent to $65 million now.

Atreyu Got Seriously Injured on Set

Making a movie always involves risks, but for the actor who played Atreyu, it almost cost him an eye. While filming the movie, Noah Hathaway was injured on several occasions. He was thrown off a horse which then stepped on him. Luckily, the injuries were minor.

A still from Noah Hathaway’s scene with the wolf-like beast.
Photo by Impress Own/United Archives/Getty Images

It was during the final fight scene between Atreyu and the wolf-like beast Gmork that the actor nearly lost an eye. The robot that was Gmork began to malfunction, and somehow one of its claws slashed the child actor on the face, right next to his eye. It was extremely heavy, so when it fell on him, he completely lost his breath, and his injuries were pretty severe. Because he got injured, they only had one take of this scene, and that’s what you see in the final cut.

The Childlike Empress Wore Dentures

When you are working on a movie with child actors, you have to follow child labor laws. Kids can only work for a short amount of time, and a guardian or an adult responsible for them has to be present. It’s not really a big deal and, honestly, something that should be expected. Someone has to make sure the children are protected.

Tami Stronach as the Empress in a publicity portrait for the film.
Tami Stronach. Photo by kpa/United Archives/Getty Images

Another thing that should be expected when working with a blossoming 11-year-old is that she might be missing some teeth. That’s exactly what happened with Tami Stronach, the girl who played the Childlike Empress.

Tami Stronach’s Flippers

Tami Stronach lost her two front teeth in the natural course of growing up. The only problem is, she was growing up on set, playing a character who should not be missing teeth. Although children on screen should also be losing their teeth, the directors felt that missing teeth might be distracting for the audience, especially with her otherwise stately appearance.

A portrait of Tami Stronach.
Photo by Fryderyk Gabowicz/picture alliance/Getty Images

Therefore, they fitted the young actress with false teeth known as a flipper, which are still commonly used by child actors. Unfortunately, the falsies caused Tami to develop a lisp, and it took her quite a long time to overcome it.