Of Course Tom Hanks Is Playing Captain Sully

By  · Published on June 19th, 2015

Walt Disney Pictures

There goes my wish for Captain Sully to play himself. Deadline is reporting that Tom Hanks is in negotiations to play Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the hero airline pilot who made a perfect, casualty-free crash landing of an Airbus in the Hudson River in 2009 after a run-in with some geese, in the movie tentatively titled Sully. Of course he is. I guess he’d be my second choice, or at least he’d be my second guess. The only thing keeping this news from being absolutely obvious is that Hanks has surprisingly never before worked with Clint Eastwood, who is directing the picture (you’d think their political leanings had been keeping them away or something). The closest they’ve gotten is to both appearing in the immediate 9/11 memorial special America: A Tribute to Heroes.

Hanks is about the perfect age to play Sully – don’t let the real-life character’s white hair confuse you – and he’s typically our first pick to portray anyone with an All-American iconicism. Hanks has played Walt Disney, for example, and he’s already played a few captains, including the eponymous hero of Captain Phillips, Captain Miller in Saving Private Ryan and Captain Jim Lovell of Apollo 13. He’s starred in a movie where he’s in a plane that crashes into the water (Cast Away) and played a guy who can’t seem to get away from an airport with ease (The Terminal) and a guy who I bet had been called “Sully” at one point in his life (Mike Sullivan of Road to Perdition), plus a guy who regularly did the unbelievable (Forrest Gump). He’s even played someone who sounds like Captain Sully’s adversary, as one of his characters in Cloud Atlas is named Dr. Goose.

As for the other notable name involved with this movie so far, Hanks does have history with producer Frank Marshall, who produced two of Hanks’s early vehicles, The Money Pit and Joe Versus the Volcano, and directed an episode of the Hanks-produced HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon. The former two were made while Marshall was at Amblin Entertainment, which he co-founded with his wife, Kathleen Kennedy, and Steven Spielberg. Interestingly enough, Marshall wasn’t partnered with Spielberg and Amblin when they later got into the Hanks business for Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can, The Terminal and the upcoming Bridge of Spies, nor was he involved with the Amblin/Eastwood projects Flags Of Our Fathers or Letters From Iwo Jima, but he did work with them on Hereafter and an Eastwood-helmed episode of Amazing Stories from 1985.

Basically it all comes down to: it’s about time Hanks, Marshall and Eastwood find themselves collaborating together on something.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.