It's been over 30 years since one of the world's most beloved fantasy films, The Never EndingStory, made its 1984 debut. Despite this, the film's popularity continues to grow and has firmly solidified itself as a cult classic. In light of Hollywood's recent trend of reboots and remakes, it's almost hard to believe that The NeverEnding Story is yet to be reimagined for a modern audience.
Curious as to how the orignal cast of The NeverEnding Story would feel about a reboot, I sat down with The Childlike Empress herself, actress Tami Stronach, and asked her to share some of her thoughts on the matter. Between being on set of The NeverEnding Story, the film's legacy and her life since, we leave no stone unturned in this exclusive interview.
Rachael Rumancek's Interview With The NeverEnding Story's Tami Stronach:
RR: First and foremost, there is something I am dying to know; technology has come a long way since the '80s. Without using visual effects like CGI, what were the sets of Fantasia like?
"The sets were all real, they were enormous and the budget was enormous. They had to ship in all of the mud and all of the trees and literally take over the whole Bavarian Studios to kind of make these worlds and they were just gigantic. It was really extraordinary. You just felt like you walked into ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ it was amazing."
RR: With the rising trend in rebooting classic films and series, how do you feel about a reboot or even a remake of The NeverEnding Story?
"I feel like it’s all in how it’s done. I think that if it was done and was sort of diluted and not done well I would be really sad, but I think at the same time if it were done really well and it could get a new generation of people interested in what I think is an amazing story, I think it’d be great."
RR: Have you been a fan of any modern adaptations of classic films?
"It’s funny, I think we all get really nostalgic about our favorite movies. 'Blade Runner' is one of mine and I can’t imagine remaking it because it’s so complicated. Like ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ I can’t help but prefer the original. It’s hard to remake something people are kind of attached to in its original form, but I also feel like, I don’t know, I’m always going to fall on the side of 'you should try', right? You should always try."
RR: Supposing the casting of The NeverEnding Story's reboot was just announced, who would you like to see take over your role as The Childlike Empress?
"Millie Bobby Brown, that’s who I think should do it. She has this sort of ethereal, mysterious quality. I also think she’s between cultures. She has kind of a mid-Atlantic accent that’s not American and not really British so it feels somewhat removed from ordinary life because [her accent] has a slightly far-away feeling to it - and she’s a great actress."
Tami replied so promptly to this question with Millie Bobby Brown's name that I'm convinced that she'd had this thought at least once before!
RR: How would you feel about making a cameo in the theoretical reboot, since you obviously would not be able to reprise your original role?
"You don’t think I can pull off an 11 year old at 45?"
(Tami continues to elaborate after us gals break for a quick giggle).
"I would love to do a cameo in something like that. It would be so fun and I think it would be really important to make it appropriate and sort of a nod towards it. You know, a mom figure or a kind of ethereal creature with three eyes and wings. Something fun!"
RR: Looking back, is there anything about your experience on The NeverEnding Story that you would change?
"The filming of the experience itself was really positive for me. I just loved portraying that character. I think if there’s anything I could change I think, you know, the '80s were kind of a strange time for young actors. I think that Hollywood has sort of gotten better at making sure that kids roles are kids treated as kids. You know, that they can grow up as kids. I wouldn’t change anything about the experience of filming the film, but I do think that it’s really awesome the way Hollywood has progressed. There are so many interesting roles and parts for girls and women in movies now, I think there has been a change. I think when I was in the scene, some scripts I got after ‘The NeverEnding Story’ were really violent, kind of inappropriate and I didn’t see a lot of parts that I was really excited about diving into. I’m just so heartened and so excited by how many more juicy and interesting roles for women there are now."
RR: Did you keep in touch with anyone from the cast?
"No, both Barret [Oliver] and Noah [Hathaway] lived in L.A. and I lived in San Francisco. Now I live in New York but at that time I did so we didn’t stay in touch unfortunately ... I was sort of lured to a Comic-Con with the idea that I would get to see Noah. I thought it would be fun after 30 years to see him and say hi. He ended up not arriving at the Comic-Con, so maybe in another 30 years we’ll be in our late 80s. It’s going to happen."
RR: You recently returned to film with a role in an upcoming epic-fantasy from the Czech Republic (that I absolutely have no idea how to pronounce). Can you tell us a little about what made you want to return to the silver-screen?
"The film you are referring to is [‘Poslední z] Aporveru’, and it’s interesting because I actually choreographed the fight scenes for that film ... After ‘The NeverEnding Story’ I ended up diving more into dance and choreography, and I was a choreographer in New York for the last 20 years. I was also choreographing for plays and musical theater and for films, so initially I went into ‘Aporveru’ to do the fight choreography, which I was really excited about because I had never done fight choreography before. I had only done dance choreography. They ended up throwing me in the film for a small scene or two."
Check out the extraordinary trailer for Tami Stronach's upcoming fantasy film, Poslední z Aporveru, below.
RR: After dipping your toes back in the acting-pool for Aporveru, do you plan to continue pursuing a career in acting?
"I just recently started a family entertainment company called Paper Canoe Company, and we did a bunch of plays last year. I’ve been acting on the New York stage so it’s kind of slowly creeping into the pipeline and I’m getting more and more excited about returning to acting and some film and theater projects… This year I did a small independent film called ‘Ultra Low’, so I’m slowly creeping back into film."
RR: Between your history in theater, dance and film, where do you hope to see your career take you from here?
"It’s interesting that I started out in theater, and then obviously did ‘The NeverEnding Story’ and did a record when I was in Germany. Then I went really heavily back into dance for a long time, but I was acting in plays in New York simultaneously. I think that’s been interesting over the last couple years, and forming Paper Canoe Company. All these things that I had been interested in, I finally have an excuse to do them in the same context. I just choreographed a music video that features my daughter that will be released next week. So, where I want to be is [living] the dream, just to have the freedom to really do a little of everything."
RR: Where and when can fans of The NeverEnding Story expect to see your latest work?
"‘Ultra Low’ will probably come out next year and ‘Aporveru’ hopefully next year too. I was told 2017, so let’s see. Then I’m going to be making a small dance film in the Czech Republic this November, then the [music] video that I made. These are going to be available ASAP, and people can find out more at www.papercanoecompany.com, while the dance film will be on my dance website. We [Paper Canoe Company] have a ton of live shows for our album in New York, so if anyone wants to know what we’re up to, come out to one of the shows and say hi. Bring your kids!"
Since her days as The Childlike Empress in Fantasia, Tami Stronach has gone on to build her own legacy. From acting and dancing to starting her own family-orientated entertainment company, Stronach has no intentions of slowing down anytime soon.
Who would you cast as The Childlike Empress for a modern day reboot? Let me know in the comments.