ByJack Giroux, writer at
Jack Giroux

Captain Phillips is a hell of a movie. Director has made a two hour dramatic thriller that gives you little breathing room, placing you in the claustrophobic lifeboat we see Captain Phillips () held hostage in. A lot of that tension has to do with the four main performances we see, from both Hanks and three non-professional actors playing the pirates.

Obviously Greengrass struck up a memorable relationship with with the Bourne films and The Green Zone, and let's hope the director plans on completing a few more pictures with Mr. Hanks in the future. The two are a terrific pairing, making a completely authentic 2-hour experience together.

Here are five facts we learned about Captain Phillips from the film's press day:

The Power of Non-Actors

The four guys – Mahat Ali, Faysal Ahmed, little Barkhad Abdirahman, and big Barkhad Abdi – achieved something that often is proven again and again. There’s a small percentage of people who can act. There’s a small percentage who get to do this for a living. There’s a swath of the population that are able to keep a story in their head and fight all the battles against self-consciousness and the surreal unnaturalness of acting in a movie. The technical aspects you can learn fairly quickly. That other aspect of inhabiting a character and staying on story and on point while maintaining that character is not something everybody can do. These guys – and particularly Barkhad Abdi – were evident from the start. - Tom Hanks

Time is a Challenge

These events unfolded over four or five days. You have the challenge of compression. Actually, that was the central challenge that we faced: how to compress these events and stay true to the fundamentals. I think the fundamentals of what happened are there on the screen. - Paul Greengrass

The Life Boat

I’m not a particularly claustrophobic person, but it was a very small space. We built an exact replica and put it on a gimbal, and that’s where we shot. Environmentally, it does a lot of the work for you. It’s a very uncomfortable space. It smells horrible. The air is bad. It’s hot, and you are right on top of each other...Paul Greengrass sets up an environment that is very realistic, and I can’t imagine doing it any other way. There are ways that may have been more pleasant, but for everything we needed to go through, as actors, that hot and cramped place, with only two little windows on it, was a great advantage for us. - Tom Hanks

The Powerful Last Scene

We didn’t know we were going to shoot that scene. It wasn’t in the script. We were supposed to shoot another scene that day. We didn’t know we were making the last scene of the movie. There was another scene that was sort of like that, that was very accurate to the story, and it happened when Phillips was alone and all cleaned up. - Tom Hanks

Don't Forget the Crew

You have to make choices. You're weighing the necessary responsibility towards reality and authenticity, but also the need to create drama over two hours. One of the issues here is that Captain Phillips' crew was 25 men, who all went through this experience. Richard Phillips had the worst experience, but what we tried to convey was not to forget the crew and the roles that they played. I'm proud that you sense this crew moving around and playing different parts as individuals, even though it's impossible to follow 25 individuals in a film. - Paul Greengrass

Captain Phillips is now in theaters.


Latest from our Creators