Fresh of the record-breaking success of the Oscar-nominated American Sniper, Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood is wasting no time in putting together his next directorial project. Once again telling the true story of an American hero, the filmmaker will be helming a biopic of U.S. Airways pilot Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who famously performed an emergency landing on the Hudson River in 2009 after a flock of geese hit the plane he was flying. His actions saved the lives of all 155 passengers on board.
Since Eastwood is the one behind the camera, the project was already intriguing enough, but Warner Bros. is looking to get some top-notch talent to be in front of the camera as well. The director and the studio are currently in talks with none other than Tom Hanks to play the lead.
Deadline broke the story, saying that the parties are currently involved in the negotiation stage (meaning, there’s a chance this falls through), but odds are Hanks will be the one to star in the film. Though the casting choice may reek of cliché for some, there’s no denying that the Oscar winner is a solid pick for the part. There are few thespians better served to portray this type of character than Hanks.
Should he sign on, it will mark the second occasion in a relatively short period of time Hanks will play a real-life heroic captain. In 2013, he headlined Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips, which was based on the Maersk Alabama hijacking incident in 2009. Though Hanks missed getting nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for that film, his performance still drew widespread acclaim, and the movie itself got a Best Picture nod. Warner Bros. is no doubt hoping for similar results with their own tale of survival.
There’s no denying that what Sullenberger accomplished was a remarkable feat, but there may be some viewers wondering if the event is deserving of a full-length feature film (since it doesn’t seem to fit the typical “three act” structure of a movie), but veterans like Eastwood and Hanks shouldn’t have a problem when it comes to finding material to include in the production. The script (written by Todd Komarnicki) is based on Sullenberger’s memoir Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters, which included bits of the captain’s life story. Most likely, the screenplay will have more to tell than the Hudson River landing and serve as a character study about leadership and responsibility.
All in all, the Sullenberger biopic is shaping up to be another winner for WB. Though American Sniper was somewhat polarizing when it came out, many of the criticisms were lobbied at Jason Hall’s script and not Eastwood’s directing of the material (read our review). He may be 85, but the filmmaker showed just last year he’s still at the top of his craft and can deliver thrilling and suspenseful set pieces. The plane landing will obviously be the must-see aspect of this film, so it should be interesting to see how Eastwood handles it.
As of now, there’s no word on a production timeline for this film, but with the pieces coming into place very quickly, we would think Eastwood will commence filming soon. He has shown throughout his career that he is a fast worker (in 2014, he also put out Jersey Boys), and after audiences showed they still respond to his movies, WB will want to get the ball rolling in the near future. Based on the pedigree, they’ll probably want this one ready for release by the 2016 awards season.
We’ll keep you updated on the Captain Sullenberger biopic as more information becomes available.