"Captain Phillips" (watch trailer) is one of the most highly anticipated films of 2013. The movie tells the story of the 2009 hijacking of a U.S. cargo ship by Somali pirates. The film promises to be well-researched and features a veteran cast, including Tom Hanks as the film lead. Here are some interesting facts about the filming and creative process of "Captain Phillips" that you may not know.
Based on a True Story
The entire film is based on the real-life events of the hijacking of the U.S. Maersk Alabama in 2009. The crew of the Maersk Alabama was terrorized by Somali pirates who found their way on board and took the entire ship and its crew hostage. Tom Hanks plays the titular Captain Richard Phillips, the hero who eventually saves his ship and its crew. Muse is the name of the Somali pirate in charge of the ship takeover. In the film, Muse is portrayed by actor Barkhad Abdi, a relative newcomer to the blockbuster movie industry. The tension between Hanks and Abdi promises to be riveting as these two talented actors recreate one of the greatest face-offs to take place on the sea in recent years. What is so incredible about the fact that "Captain Phillips" is based on a true story is that the hijacking of the U.S. Maersk Alabama marks the first time in many years that a Western ship has been affected by pirating. The resurgence of pirate activity in the Caribbean has been the cause of much drama and concern in recent years, making this film a fascinating and modern take on an old concept.
Filming a live-action adventure on the rough seas is not an inexpensive process. "Captain Phillips" has an estimated total budget of $55 million, making it one of the most expensive films to be based on a true story in recent years. It is rare for a film based on true events to receive such significant funding and critical attention, which only serves to increase the buzz around this film. With such an impressive budget and a talented director and cast, "Captain Phillips" holds plenty of potential for a great fall release. The events of the film are largely centered around a storm that interferes with the Somali pirate hijacking, pitting the two captains against nature as well as each other. Critics and fans alike are eagerly waiting to see how director Paul Greengrass will use his substantial budget to make the stormy seas come to life.
Greengrass admits that he used a less-than-conventional filming technique when it came to introducing his leading cast. Film veteran Tom Hanks has mentioned in multiple interviews that he did not meet Abdi and the other actors who portrayed the Somali pirates until filming began. Greengrass explains that he chose to introduce his leading men when they would actually meet during the course of the film. This innovative technique was used to create an element of tension and uncertainty in the character Hanks plays, so the hesitation surrounding their first meeting would translate into the filming process.
Attention to Detail
Greengrass wanted the interactions between his cast members to be as realistic as possible, so he chose a real Navy physician to conduct Captain Phillips's medical examination during the film. Hanks was not clued into what would be going on during the procedure, and Corpsman Danielle Albert was instructed to proceed with her job as if it were a real examination. The Corpsman had never seen Tom Hanks in real life prior to filming, and it is said that she became quite starstruck during the filming of the scene.
In addition to starring film legend Tom Hanks, "Captain Phillips" also boasts an all-star crew. Legendary screenwriter Billy Ray took the creative helm, penning the film's greatest lines and dialog. Most notably, Captain Richard Phillips himself played a major role in the writing and creative direction of the film. He served not only as a writer but as a consultant, helping the director and screenwriter stay true to the events as told in his biographical account. It is rare for a film based on true events to have such privileged access to the figure at the very heart of the story. "Captain Phillips" promises to be a remarkable film with a realistic portrayal of the first American ship hijacking in more than two centuries. Audiences can look forward not only to remarkable acting, but also to the personal touch of the original Captain Phillips portrayed in the film.