Tom Hanks relives pilot’s horror and heroism on the water
Many people will remember the moment when a powerless airliner was forced to land on the frigid waters of New York’s Hudson River on Jan 15, 2009.
Thankfully, all 155 abroad were saved thanks to heroic pilot Chelsey Sullenberger’s flying skills.
But Sullenberger was then investigated by National Transportation Safety Board as the latter thought his water landing was a mistake.
That became the attraction for Oscarwinning director Clint Eastwood to make Sully, based on the real incident.
Nearly three months after its United States premiere, Chinese audiences can see the biographical feature, starting from Friday.
“It was a positive outcome in a bad situation,” says Eastwood, who’s known to Chinese moviegoers for his 1995 romance The Bridges of Madison Sully, County (1995), in a promotional material tailored for the Chinese market.
Before the incident, the US was a different place, says Eastwood. “It was post-9/11. We had troops in the Middle East. There was the 2008 financial meltdown … people were worried,” he says.
“That happened in Manhattan and we survived it, well, I think it gave people hope.”
When serving in the US Army at 21, Eastwood had a particular experience connecting him with the movie. He caught a free naval flight from Seattle to Alameda, but the plane went down off Point Reyes, California. And he found himself in the waters of the Pacific and had to swim a few miles toward the shore.
Sully has a glittering cast: Tom Hanks stars as the hero, and Aaron Eckhart plays Sully’s co-pilot Jeff Skiles.
As one of only two actors in history to win back-to-back Best Actor Academy Awards, Hanks again shows why he deserves his accolades.
“At some points I forgot he’s Hanks but took him to be the real Sullenberger. His authoritative performance is amazing,” says Wang Xiaoyang, a viewer who was at the Beijing preview last week.
Hanks won his first Oscar in 1994 for Philadelphia, and in the following year he took home his second Oscar for Forrest Gump.
But even Hanks, who has the talent to take audiences into the character’s world, says he felt intimidated to play a real-life hero. “Sully is an accomplished pilot from every perspective ... No one has ever trained for an incident like that,” says Hanks.
Emma Stone attends the premiere of Lionsgate’s on Tuesday in Westwood, California.
which will hit Chinese mainland theaters on Friday. Right: Director Clint East-
Left: Tom Hanks stars as the hero in wood (left) with Hanks.