IF you were a child of the 80s there’s a fair bet you would have been among the many longing to have their own luck dragon and ride high above the clouds over the mystical world of Fantasia.
Such was the appeal of the 1984 film, The NeverEnding Story.
The German production focused on youngster, Bastian, who via a mysterious book, lands himself in the middle of a battle to save a fantasy world [Fantasia] and its inhabitants from being lost to The Nothing.
While Bastian proves the world’s saviour, it is warrior Atreyu, who serves as the real hero of the story.
Taking on the role was 12-year-old Californian Noah Hathaway, who was well known to science fiction audiences from age six for his portrayal as Boxey in the Battlestar Galactica series.
For Hathaway, Atreyu was most definitely the performance of a lifetime - not too far from the truth considering he has only appeared on a handful of films since The NeverEnding Story.
Now aged 40, Hathaway is still happy to reflect on the film and enjoys meeting those who deem it a classic. He will be in Sydney this weekend as one of the star attractions of the annual Supanova Pop Culture Expo.
When he recently spoke to the Champion he joked that some of his older fans may not recognise him these days.
‘‘I’ve got a blue mohawk right now and I’m tattooed from head to toe,’’ he laughed.
Hathaway said he had many fond memories of working on The NeverEnding Story, from performing many of his own stunts to spending the best part of a year in Germany during the filming.
‘‘I was a really athletic kid at the time of the filming,’’ he said. ‘‘I was just a crazy, hyperactive nutcase and I’m sure that the director saw that and went, ‘let’s see how much we can get away with’. When you’re that age you’re absolutely fearless.
‘‘There was some stuff that legally they couldn’t get away with letting me do, but believe me they tried. The directors wanted it to be authentic and were like, ‘lets have the 12-year-old fall off the cliff and into the mud’. There were a couple of things that we did have to have the stunt double do but there was not a whole lot.’’
Despite the intense nature of being on set, Hathaway described the experience as ‘amazing’.
‘‘It was almost a year of my life,’’ he said. ‘‘I moved to Munich, you see a real winter - Jesus the German winter is cold - it’s just completely different to California that’s for sure. And a year is a long time to work on a film that’s for sure. I just wrapped up a movie a little while ago and we busted that out in 30 days, and this was 10 months.
‘‘It was awesome and great and I busted my butt working on the film. It was very physical and very emotional. We worked long hours and there was so much technical stuff ... it was a gruelling wonderful and fun experience.’’
Hathaway said he wasn’t surprised the film had achieved a cult status.
‘‘The book is amazing,’’ he said. ‘‘I always tell people if you like the movie then the book is better, that’s where it all originates. But they really did amazing stuff with the animatronics and staying true to most of the story and there is a lot of stuff that people get and it kind of binds people and I think that’s part of why it does stand the test of time.’’
After stepping away from acting to pursue a range of other interests, including a passion for custom motorcycles and tattooing, Hathaway has returned to the craft in recent years.
He will next be seen in a quirky production titled, Sushi Girl, appearing alongside Mark Hamill [Star Wars], Tony Todd [Candyman] and Michael Biehn [The Terminator].
The film is set to open in America in coming weeks and received positive reviews last month when it screened at the annual Cannes Film Festival.
‘‘It’s like a grindhouse homage but it’s not as gritty and it’s not as deliberate as a Tarantino film, but it has that feel to it without stealing anything from him,’’ Hathaway said.
‘‘It’s that film noir, violent, gritty, sexy - that’s the feel of it. You’ll be tired from it by the time you leave.’’
Hathaway said he had also recently starred in a short film directed by Tom Holland, who in the 80s was responsible for horror films including Child’s Play and Fright Night.
This weekend’s Supanova visit will be Hathaway’s first trip to Australia.
He says he’s eager to meet with fans and plans to go diving with sharks.
‘‘My father lived in Australia in the late 60s, right before I was born, so I’d hear all of these wonderful and crazy stories so I’ve been dying to get there since I was young,’’ he said. ‘‘And I have Australian friends and they’re some of the most warm, awesome wonderful partiers I’ve ever hung out with, so I’m stoked to be coming down there for three weeks.’’
Hathaway said he also looked forward to the expo.
‘‘To a lot of people who come out this is a moment in their life that they will always remember,’’ he said. ‘‘Even if it’s only one minute in my life where I stop for a moment and give somebody a hug or say, ’hi’, that could be a big moment in somebody’s life.
‘‘I’m always pretty mellow at these things and have a good time.’’