Friday 9 December 2016

Miracle On The Hudson hero pilot 'wanted Hanks as an ally'

Published 21/11/2016 | 00:06

Tom Hanks and Chesley Sullenberger
Tom Hanks and Chesley Sullenberger

The pilot who safely landed a passenger plane on New York's Hudson River said he wanted to recruit Tom Hanks "as an ally" after learning the actor would play him in a Hollywood movie.

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Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger saved the lives of all 155 people on board US Airways flight 1549 after he was forced to land in water following a bird strike in 2009.

His story is now the subject of a new film, Sully: Miracle On The Hudson, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Hanks in the lead role.

Sullenberger, who has voiced support for the film and Hanks's performance, said the actor visited his house to discuss playing him before production started.

"I was quite frankly trying to recruit him as an ally," Sullenberger said.

"I told (Tom) 'I don't have creative control, Clint does. But this my life, this is my story, and it's really important to me we get this right and we get this true'. I think they did a good job about that.

"This really matters to us and I think (Clint) understood that."

Sullenberger, 65, revealed he never thought about dying or his family as he attempted to land the plane and he initially struggled with being hailed a hero.

He said: "I didn't like having that pushed in my direction constantly but I came to terms with it.

"I realise why people do that because they have a need to feel a certain way about this story.

"At a time when the world needed it, it gave us hope - confirmation human nature really is good and not just about greed."

Describing the terrifying moment he lost power in both engines, he added: "I didn't have a single extraneous thought in those few seconds that we had. It was such an intense, sudden, startling, fully engaging event.

"I knew from the outset it was going to be the most horrific, challenging experience I'd ever had in an aeroplane, far above anything else I'd ever experienced.

"I didn't think I was going to die. I never thought about my family once.

"I never about anything except flying the aeroplane, making the right choices."

Sullenberger also revealed Harrison Ford, whose own plane crashed on a golf course in 2015, was considered for the lead role when the movie was first suggested in 2009.

He said: "(Harrison) had read my book and he shared it with (producer) Frank Marshall, Frank gave it to (producer) Allyn Stewart and it took off from there.

"I know some people had considered him (for the role), but that was back in 2009. In 2015, when this was happening, I think Tom was the top of most people's lists."

Sully: Miracle On The Hudson is released in UK cinemas on December 2.

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