The Neverending Story child star Tami Stronach returns to movies 40 years after 1984 hit

After shunning the limelight for decades, the Childlike Empress actor is returning to the silver screen.

Die Unendliche Geschichte The NeverEnding Story Year : 1984 West Germany Director : Wolfgang Petersen Tami Stronach
Tami Stronach starred as The Childlike Empress in 1984's The NeverEnding Story. (Alamy)

It’s the classic 80s fantasy film that won a new generation of fans thanks to an episode of Stranger Things. Now one of the child stars of iconic 80s fantasy The NeverEnding Story is about to mark the film’s 40th anniversary by making her movie comeback.

Tami Stronach became a worldwide sensation after appearing in the classic family film as the Childlike Empress, but quit the industry soon afterwards to spend her life working in dance and theatre companies.

But as her famous debut film celebrates it 40th birthday, New York-based Stronach is returning to the cinema with new UK-shot film Man and Witch: The Dance of a Thousands Steps, produced by and starring Tami and husband Greg Steinbruner. The cast also includes Sean Astin, Christopher Lloyd, Jennifer Saunders, Bill Bailey, Greg Hemphill and Strictly Come Dancing star Giovanni Pernice making his big screen acting debut.

Man and Witch: The Dance of a Thousand Steps. (Man and Witch)
Tami Stronach in Man and Witch: The Dance of a Thousand Steps. (Man and Witch)

The film’s world premiere is in London on 2 June, as part of special 80s-themed film festival NeverEnding FantasyCon in London, which will also host the first screening of new documentary, Life after The NeverEnding Story.

She said she was thrilled to be marking the 40th anniversary of her first film, by not just looking back, but by launching a new family friendly adventure in the same spirit as the beloved kids classic.

"I am so excited that it's coming out now, and it feels like an indie triumph.

"It’s really good serendipity that Man and Witch is coming out 40 years since the NeverEnding Story and it's a kind of nice little full circle for my own personal story.

"You know, it's not just a retro story, it’s actually a present story. We're contributing something new instead of looking back. The NeverEnding Story is all about making your own stories and I feel like, here’s my story." After the Man and Witch premiere in London, the film goes on release across the United States and the producers are currently trying to secure UK distribution.

Die Unendliche Geschichte The NeverEnding Story  Year: 1984 - west Germany Director: Wolfgang Petersen Barret Oliver, Tami Stronach
Barret Oliver and Tami Stronach in 1984's The NeverEnding Story. (Alamy)

The NeverEnding Story was a huge hit in cinemas and on home video after its release in 1984, spawning the eponymous single from chart star Limahl, which was famously featured in the season three finale of retro Netflix hit Stranger Things. The film’s enduring popularity has also led to the announcement of a new remake from See Saw Films, the producers of Heartstopper and Slow Horses.

Tami said she only has happy memories of making the movie when she was 10, but admits she struggled with her instant celebrity.

Watch a trailer for Man and Witch

She quit acting after the attention stunned her archaeologist parents David and Ruth Stronach, who chose to shield her from the Hollywood lifestyle. The family were swamped by phone calls from fans, while she also had to deal with stalkers in subsequent years.

As a result, she spent years shying away from The NeverEnding Story, but when she finally joined the Comic Con-style convention circuit, admitted she was bowled over by the support of fans — which in turn inspired her and husband Steinbruner to make Man and Witch.

"I feel sort of silly that I pushed it away for so long. I think maybe the fact that at the time the fame was so overwhelming and, you know, there were some stalkers, things about it that sort of made me a little bit nervous.

Barret Oliver und Tami Stronach aus dem Spielfilm
Barret Oliver and Tami Stronach promoting The Neverending Story in 1984. (Alamy)

"So when I entered the Comic-Con world, I had some trepidation that was carried over but the truth of the matter is it's just been nothing but fantastic and I really feel the love from fans. I wouldn't have made Man and Witch if it wasn't for the fans.

"They’ve been writing me for 40 years asking me to be in another film. And then I went to Comic-Cons and there you have people looking you in the eye saying, ‘When are you going to make another film?’ And it was the love from the fans and their encouragement that kind of gave me the wind at my back to try this."

Tami also appears in new documentary Life after The NeverEnding Story, and admitted she found it eye-opening. Having been a ten-year-old child at the time, she was oblivious to complications and arguments on set of Wolfgang Petersen’s fantasy epic.

Man and Witch: The Dance of a Thousand Steps. (Man and Witch)
Man and Witch: The Dance of a Thousand Steps. (Man and Witch)

"It’s fantastic and it's a very comprehensive look at the making of the film. It kind of shows a lot of the fighting and the tension. Some people on the set had great experiences. And some people on the set had very difficult experiences.

"If you love The NeverEnding Story, you'll still love it after you see the documentary. It's a celebration of how hard it is to make a film. And it kind of makes you love it even more because you're like, ‘Wow, that's a miracle.’

"I learned a lot that I didn't know, and because I have just made my own film, I know how hard it is to make one.”

The world premiere of Man And Witch: The Dance of a Thousand Steps is on Sunday 2 june at the Prince Charles Cinema in London’s Leicester Square as part of the Neverending FantasyCon festival.