Tom Hanks, a revered acting luminary with a career spanning over four decades, is known for his professionalism and poise. Yet, even someone of Hanks’ stature confessed to feeling a sense of intimidation while collaborating with director Clint Eastwood on the film “Sully,” based on the real-life heroics of pilot Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger.
During an appearance on the Graham Norton Show in 2016, Hanks humorously divulged his experience with Eastwood, labeling the director as “intimidating.” He recounted Eastwood’s distinct directorial style, comparing it to handling horses. Eastwood, known for his role in the ’60s series “Rawhide,” had a unique method of directing. Instead of boisterously calling “Action!” and “Cut!” as many directors do, Eastwood employed a quiet, soft demeanor, softly saying “All right, go ahead,” and calmly concluding a scene with, “That’s enough of that.” This approach, rather than loud commands, left Hanks in awe and admittedly intimidated.
Despite Hanks’ extensive collaboration with esteemed directors like Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, and others renowned in the industry, Eastwood’s quiet and precise direction stood out, leaving a lasting impression on the seasoned actor.
However, Eastwood wasn’t the sole figure with exacting standards on the set of “Sully.” The real Chesley Sullenberger, whose heroic actions the film depicted, also had precise notes regarding his portrayal. Hanks recounted a meeting with Sullenberger, who greeted him punctually, yet amusingly noted Eastwood’s tardiness, indicating the director’s inclination for making an entrance.
Sullenberger, meticulous in his observations, presented Hanks with a well-worn script adorned with annotations, Post-its, and stapled index cards meticulously detailing every aspect of the story. His thoroughness extended to scrutinizing every page, every moment, and every beat within the script, demonstrating a deep involvement in the accuracy and portrayal of the events.
Hanks’ anecdote offered a glimpse into the meticulous attention to detail and distinct directorial approach of Clint Eastwood, leaving an indelible impression on the actor, while also highlighting Sullenberger’s commitment to ensuring authenticity in the portrayal of his remarkable story.