Tami Stronach, who played the childish Empress in The NeverEnding Story, is finally making a comeback decades after making her big-screen debut in the beloved fantasy film.
The 48-year-old former child star is working on a new fantasy film called Man & Witch with her husband, writer and actor Greg Steinbruner. The couple, who will star in the film alongside theater legends Christopher Lloyd, Sean Astin and Rhea Perlman, are currently filming on location in Scotland.
Stronach plans to use Man & Witch to showcase elements that retro films lacked, such as celebrating middle-aged women. She also hopes to show that “love isn’t just for the handsome, the young and the straight” and to give the sexist narratives seen in classic ’80s movies a “modern twist”.
On Wednesday April 7, Vice posted an interview with Stronach, which revealed what really happened after she rose to fame in the mid-1980s and why she suddenly disappeared from Hollywood.
In the mid-1980s, Stronach’s archaeologist parents moved their family from San Francisco to Germany for a few months so that she could film her brief scenes as the ethereal Child Empress. However, after Stromach took her big break from the 1984 cult classic, she and her parents decided not to continue pursuing a career in children’s acting following a series of negative experiences.
Stronach revealed that after the film became a success, she was approached by the producers to make a nude film. At the time, she was only 12 years old. She was also stalked by adult male fans, who often called her at her house and even sent her marriage proposals.
“I didn’t desperately want to be a star. I desperately wanted to play,” Stronach told Vice. “Those are two different things.”
And so, her parents made the joint decision to remove her from the actress. The family returned to San Fransisco where they eventually joined her high school’s drama and dance departments.
After graduating from high school, Stronach moved to New York City where she became a professional dancer and ended up running her own dance company. She then became a dance teacher at Marymount Manhattan College.
So what inspired Stronach to return to the theater? Ultimately, another fantastic children’s property with strong cultural ties to the ’80s: Stranger Things!
Season 3 of the iconic Netflix series, which aired in 2019, paid homage to The NeverEnding Story with a unique scene. The popularity of this particular plot thread inspired her and Steinbruner to create their own 80s-inspired film, as there remains so much appreciation for The NeverEnding Story after all these years.