What do you think it is about the story of Captain “Sully” Sullenberger and the forced water landing he pulled off on the Hudson River so remarkable and inspiring to people?
CLINT EASTWOOD: What impressed me about it when I first read the screenplay was that Sully was a real American hero, somebody who did the right thing at the right time and adjusted to the elements that he had to face. And the fact that some people tried to say otherwise shows that he had to overcome a lot of things he maybe hadn’t anticipated.
This is your first film with Tom Hanks. What drew you to Tom for the role of Sully, and was there anything about his performance that surprised you as a director?
CLINT EASTWOOD: Tom is terrific. He’s a director’s dream. He comes well prepared, and knows what he’s doing. I thought he was splendid.
Aaron Eckhart plays Sully’s co-pilot Jeff Skiles in the film. How did you work with Aaron and Tom to create the interaction between these two experienced pilots in a way that makes us believe what they’re going through?
CLINT EASTWOOD: They just do it [laughs]. It was a well-written script. The writer had been very diligent in his research on what happened and exactly how it happened. The detail was there – all we had to do was to put it on and make it believable. It took a combination of various effects to get it all to work together, and to bring those 208 seconds to life with all of the tension and power of the real thing.
In doing that, what did you see as your greatest challenges?
CLINT EASTWOOD: Well, after reading the script, I was trying to think, what was the worst thing that could have happened there? And I said, ‘We’ll do that as a dream sequence to start the picture off’ – just to show people what a real tragedy it could have been. So, I added that scene, and it gave me a good start for the picture.