Tom Hanks’ tale of two captains...........................
TOM Hanks has built a reputation as one of the hardest-working actors in Hollywood. Dressed entirely in black, his hair is cut short, with only a few strands of grey along his neck giving away his age – he’s 57 years old.
Hanks looks at many factors – the writing, interest by the studio, what director or other actors are involved – when deciding what film to do next. He’s not picky, but Hanks doesn’t want to put his time and energy into a project that may never get made.
‘‘You don’t go to the harbour and get on a boat that’s not going out to sea,’’ Hanks says.
That analogy might have been spawned by all of the water work he did while filming Captain Phillips. The film is based on the true story of the attack in 2009 on a cargo ship by a group of Somali pirates, the first such assault on an American ship in two centuries.
As Hanks has done in so many films – from Saving Private Ryan toCast Away – he takes on the role of a man who seems to be living an ordinary life but is pushed to do amazing things because of outside circumstances.
Director Paul Greengrass says no one is better at playing ‘‘the ordinary man’’ than Hanks.
‘‘He’s not playing some superhero. He’s not playing some guy with special powers. He’s just a regular guy. Tom Hanks is the greatest actor for playing the everyman,’’ Greengrass says.
‘‘Tom proves yet again – although it really didn’t need proving again – that he’s one of the great, great American actors of all time because he embodies the best of us.’’
Captain Phillips is Hanks’ latest role based on a real character after Apollo 13 and Charlie Wilson’s War. In the coming Saving Mr Banks he plays Walt Disney.
Although both of his upcoming roles are reality based, Hanks’ approach to each was different.
‘‘Phillips is alive and Walt Disney is dead,’’ Hanks says.
‘‘Phillips is a concrete source of everything: what he thought, what he did, what he’s like, what the job is like.
‘‘With Walt Disney, we are dealing with some degree of iconography.
‘‘In one, I’m playing a historic figure in a very specific setting in which the scenes are specifically constructed. With Richard Phillips, we are trying to capture the essence of what was going on in his head.’’
He calls his portrayal of Disney ‘‘a classical rendering’’ compared to his ‘‘emotional rendering’’ of Phillips.
Hanks sat down with Phillips twice – along with reading his book – to size up the man.
What struck him the most was the sense of humour Phillips has. Hanks is convinced that it was the one factor that helped Phillips survive the ordeal.
‘‘He’s a very happy-go-lucky guy. I would describe him as almost jolly.
‘‘He’s funny, bemused by everything,’’ Hanks says.
‘‘But when he’s on the ship it’s all deadly serious.
‘‘His wife even told me that she doesn’t visit him anymore when he’s on ship because he’s all business.
‘‘We tend to think merchant mariners are going to be cigar-chomping guys, but Rich is an accomplished professional.
‘‘He earned this job, which is a bitch of a job.’’
Captain Phillips opens today.
Captain Phillips star Tom Hanks