Tom Hanks on How Captain Phillips' Emotional Final Scene Almost Didn't Happen
October 8, 2013
Moviegoers that attended the sneak preview of director Paul Greengrass' latest, Captain Phillips, this past Saturday are likely well aware of one scene in particular wherein leading man Tom Hanks really shows off his acting talent. Surprisingly, Hanks revealed during the film's press conference that the scene in question almost didn't happen.
Although the true story is not necessarily one that can be affected by spoilers, please be aware that the comments below deal with the film's finale.
"Well, we didn't even know we were going to shoot that scene," Hanks explains. "It wasn't in the script. We had a day in which we were going to be shooting another scene. We didn't know we would be shooting the last scene of the movie."
The script for the film, written by Bill Ray, originally had a different ending altogether.
"It happened when Phillips was alone," Hanks continues. "Finally alone and he was all cleaned up. It was satisfying to a degree. It wasn't anything magnificent, but it was okay. It was what we were going for. But the actual Captain of the Bainbridge was there and we happened to ask, 'What did you do with Phillips when he first came on board?' He said, 'Well, he was a mess. We sent him down to the infirmary.' Paul said, 'Let's go see the infirmary!'"
Hanks, who plays the scene in a frighteningly realistic state of shock, is joined onscreen by real Navy officers, effectively playing themselves.
"The actual crew -- the people who are really in the film -- had no idea they were going to be in a movie that day," Hanks laughs. "Paul said, 'What would you do to a guy like this?' They talked about it a little and explained and we decided to try and get something. Paul talked to those expert health technicians. The Corpsmen. That fabulous young woman. He said, 'Just treat this like a training exercise.' So we shot it. It fell apart once because of the natural course of things that happen while making movies. We just said, 'Don't worry. We'll just do it again.' We shot for about half an hour. Forty minutes. Something like that. Out it came."
Hanks is quick to point out that he can't take all full credit for the scene and that such a performance would not be possible without a director like Greengrass.
"I think that's a testament to Paul's willingness to go off the page," says Hanks, "and off the beaten path and off the plan and off the schedule and shoot in a place with actors that aren't ready or didn't think they were going to be in a movie. In a location that we hadn't scouted to do a scene that wasn't in the script. It all made sense in the environment of the entire movie that we made."