The world witnessed the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ when Captain ‘Sully’ Sullenberger glided his disabled plane onto the frigid waters of the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 aboard.
Sully brings together two of the icons of cinema, Clint Eastwood as director and Tom Hanks as the title character, Sully.
The heroism of that cold day in January 2009, when a flock of birds took out both engines of US Airways flight 1549, attracted worldwide acclaim for the captain of the plane. However it was a part of the story, the one the world didn’t know, that drew Eastwood and Hanks to the project.
“Anybody who keeps their wits about them when things are going wrong, who can negotiate the problems without panicking, is someone of superior character and interesting to watch on film," explained Eastwood. "But for me, the real conflict came after, with the investigative board questioning his decisions even though he’d saved so many lives.”
“I’m not an aviator,” says Hanks, “but I know you’re not supposed to be able to make a landing like that. This was a very pragmatic man who understood the realities of what he’d done and what it meant. He will never say he’s a hero, but knowing with confidence that he could make that landing? That was a heroic thing he did. And he paid a price for it.”
One of Showcase Cinemas’ favourite producers, Frank Marshall says, “After everything the world knew about Sully and the landing, what happened to him after he became instantly famous was fascinating. Todd’s [Komarnicki] approach to the screenplay was to take a story you’ve heard, like the key elements of that day, and turn it into one you haven’t, giving the audience a real feel of what it was like to be there.”
Hanks had promised his family that he was to take a well-earned break from filmmaking but he couldn’t turn down the role of Sully and the opportunity to work with Eastwood.
“Sometimes you read something that is so stirring and at the same time so simple, such a perfect blend of behaviour and procedure,” he reflects. “Now, I’m as competitive as the next actor, so I knew I wanted at least a shot at it, even though I’d been working pretty steadily for about six years. Sure I was beat but, not unlike a solid jolt of adrenaline, this role, Sully, Mr. Clint Eastwood… they all came along. I felt like I couldn’t pass up a chance at playing in this great double-header at the end of this long baseball season.”
Although the two had never worked together before, Eastwood says, “Tom was one of the first people we thought about for the part. But at the time he was just finishing a picture and we didn’t think we could get him. But he read the script and liked it and made himself available. And he was terrific, a consummate pro, and it was kind of effortless working with him.”
Eastwood also appreciated what Hanks brought to the shoot when the cameras weren’t rolling. “He has a great sense of humour, so that makes it fun. He’d be standing around waiting, sometimes in the rain, and still making the crew laugh.”
Despite his easygoing demeanor on set, Hanks admits that when playing a real person “you’re always intimidated. You say to yourself, ‘I’ll never sound like him; I’ll never look like him. Hopefully I can embody some aspect, capture some part of his personality, his characteristics, his gravitas, his charm,’ whomever the person may be. And then you go to work.”
Sully sees Hanks, white-haired and moustached, in rock solid form in a stirring and gripping film, which comes to Showcase on December 2