See What the Little Girl From "The NeverEnding Story" Looks Like Now

Tami Stronach took a long hiatus from the movies after playing the iconic role.

In 1983, everything changed for 11-year-old Tami Stronach. The young actor was cast in The NeverEnding Story as the Childlike Empress, a role that she is still remembered for today as new generations take in the children's fantasy movie. Now, Stronach is in her 40s, and in a new interview with Vice, she looked back on her time making the movie and explained why she didn't continue working as a child star.

Stronach and her parents were never looking for fame in the first place. As the Vice piece explains, Stronach was taking musical theater classes in San Francisco where she lived, and a casting agent for The NeverEnding Story happened to see her performing because they were friends with her acting teacher. After a series of auditions, Stronach landed the role, and she and her parents went to film in Germany for the summer. Her iconic role was born and the rest is history.

Read on to see what Stronach had to say about her experience making the film and for what she's up to now. And for more famous kids, See What Michael Jackson's Three Kids Look Like All Grown Up.

Filming the movie was a whirlwind.

Tami Stronach in "The NeverEnding Story"
Warner Bros.

After Stronach was cast, she and her parents headed to Germany for the shoot. "I did not have stage parents who were like, 'Great, we're just going to put our careers on hold and chase her around,'" the actor told Vice. "They had really full, exciting lives and said, 'Sure, we can do this for a summer, then you're going to go back to school.'"

But while she was only in Germany for a few months, she ended up taking on another job while they were there. A music producer contacted her about recording songs after seeing her sing while promoting the film on a German talk show. The problem was, Stronach and her family were returning home in three days. "He's like, 'Okay, I'll write the songs tonight. We'll record them tomorrow. And then we'll do a music video and one TV show.' We made that so fast. It was insane. And then literally that was it. We didn't change the ticket." You can see Stronach's music video on YouTube.

Read about another actor who also decided against joining the biz at a young age in How Mary-Kate & Ashley Stopped Elizabeth Olsen From Being a Child Star.

Back home, she had some scary encounters.

Tami Stronach and Barret Oliver in "The NeverEnding Story"
Warner Bros.

After the movie came out and Stronach was back home in California, her family had some distressing experiences. Grown men tracked down her address to try to spot her, a man in Germany sent her an engagement ring, and someone tried to offer her a nude film. "I did not desperately want to be a star," Stronach said in the interview. "I desperately wanted to act. Those are two different things." As she grew up, she put film acting behind her.

Read about more stars who made it big young with The Biggest Child Actors Ever, Then and Now.

She's now a professional dancer and theater actor.

Tami Stronach in a dance studio
Tami Stronach/Instagram

Stronach didn't give up performing, however. After she graduated from high school, she moved to New York and became a dancer. She even started her own company, Tami Stronach Dance, and taught dancing at Marymount Manhattan College. "I didn't put The NeverEnding Story on my resume," she told Vice. "For me, it was like, I was a dancer, it didn't seem relevant, it was a different category."

In an interview with Slash Film in 2016, Stronach said of her theater work, "I did end up acting quite a bit. I just didn't do it in films. I was in a theater company for seven years called The Flying Machine and we toured all over the United States. We made four original plays."

Now, Stronach runs a group called The Paper Canoe Company, which focuses on children's theater.

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She's also working on a new, '80s-inspired film.

Tami Stronach and Greg Steinbruner in an Instagram selfie
Tami Stronach/Instagram

Stronach and her husband, Greg Steinbruner, are producing and starring in a movie called Man and Witch that will also feature actors including Rhea Perlman, Christopher Lloyd, and Sean Astin.

"A sly fable set in a magical Kingdom, Man and Witch pays homage to the beloved fantasy films of the '80s," reads a description on the film's website," complete with an ironic contemporary framing device à la The Princess Bride and The NeverEnding Story, and all the exciting elements (Ogres! Magic! Swordfights! Talking animal puppets!) that make fantasy films one of the most valuable commodities in the entertainment industry: a world you'll want to visit over and over again with your kids."

For another blast from the past, check out The Biggest '80s Teen Idols, Then and Now.

She has a daughter who is around the same age she was during The NeverEnding Story.

Tami Stronach and her daughter, Maya
Tami Stronach/Instagram

Stronach has a 10-year-old daughter named Maya, who will also appear in Man and Witch. She spoke to Vice about watching The NeverEnding Story for the first time. "It was definitely weird because it didn't sound like my mom," Maya said. "I was like, it looks like Mom and doesn't sound like Mom. I was a bit confused at first, but I did really like it."

For more throwbacks from that decade, check out 30 Movie Quotes Every '80s Kid Knows by Heart.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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