‘NeverEnding Story’s’ Childlike Empress… See Her Now!

‘NeverEnding Story’s’ Childlike Empress… See Her Now!

She played The Childlike Empress in the 1984 film “The NeverEnding Story,” and now Tami Stronach is reflecting on the cult classic.

In a new interview with Yahoo! Movies, Stronach admits that as a 10-year-old, she was overwhelmed by her child stardom and walked away from acting to become a professional dancer.

Life is coming full circle for the 44-year-old, who is inching back toward her roots with Paper Canoe Company, her new Brooklyn-based children’s theater company, and an upcoming indie flick called “Ultra Low.”


“I really loved acting, but I didn’t love celebrity,” she said. “So I was faced with a complicated choice because they sort of come together. So I decided to immerse myself in dance, and then if I wanted to return to acting as an adult I would do that… I really never talked about [the role], I never brought it up. And if it did come up, I’d sort of smile and try to quickly change the subject.”

“The NeverEnding Story,” a bit of a story within a story, is about a boy named Bastian who is reading a book about characters in Fantasia who are battling a negative force called The Nothing. By the end, Bastian gets pulled into the story himself.

Stronach played the ruler of Fantasia who needed Bastian to give her a new name in order to save her and her world from The Nothing.

Looking back at the emotional scene in which she pleaded with Bastian, Stronach said, “I was such a sensitive little girl. The idea of crying was so not a big deal. You would tell me, you know, ‘A turtle in Cambodia got a splinter in its foot,’ and you would have waterworks from me. It was in my nature! I feel like for me, the theater and film were such a joy and such a gift because it was a place where emotions were valued. And to some degree, I felt like in the real world my overly emotional, perhaps hypersensitive nature was a little bit of a liability, but in theater and film it was an asset. And it was such a relief.”

Tami said she was “super conscious” of playing a very old, but childlike, character. “I was 300 years old in my mind. I was a really serious girl, and I had my notebook, I had my specific age that I was, and I had the adjectives that I was cycling through my brain to make sure my body language was right. I took the whole project very seriously. But that’s where my passion was — that’s where my joy was.”

These days she is embracing the role and the fandom again thanks to the birth of her daughter, but she admitted her 6-year-old hasn’t seen the movie yet.

“She’s super scaredy-cat. She’s really sensitive — she’s totally a chip off the old block,” Tami said. “She looks exactly like me, and all she does all day is sing and dance. I’m waiting until she’s 8. She’s 6 and she’d just run screaming from the room and be traumatized. [Laughs] And I want it to be this fun shared experience! I want her to be happy about it. I don’t want her to be like, ‘Don’t ever show me that film again!’ I’m waiting a little longer. But she has my action figures. In Germany, they made little ‘Neverending Story’ action figures! So I have a little Empress action figure that my daughter plays with.”

Check out the full interview here!