Sully: Behind the Scenes

From Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood comes Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ drama “Sully,” starring Oscar winner Tom Hanks as Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger.

On January 15, 2009, the world witnessed the “Miracle on the Hudson” when Captain “Sully” Sullenberger glided his disabled plane onto the frigid waters of the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 aboard.  However, even as Sully was being heralded by the public and the media for his unprecedented feat of aviation skill, an investigation was unfolding that threatened to destroy his reputation and his career.


“Sully” also stars Aaron Eckhart as Sully’s co-pilot, Jeff Skiles, and Oscar nominee Laura Linney as Sully’s wife, Lorrie Sullenberger.

Eastwood directed the film from a screenplay by Todd Komarnicki, based on the book Highest Duty by Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow.  The project was produced by Eastwood, Frank Marshall, Allyn Stewart and Tim Moore, with Kipp Nelson and Bruce Berman serving as executive producers.

The film reunited Eastwood with several of his longtime collaborators, who most recently worked with the director on the worldwide hit “American Sniper”: director of photography Tom Stern and production designer James J. Murakami, who were both Oscar-nominated for their work on “The Changeling”; costume designer Deborah Hopper; and new editor Blu Murray.  The music is by Christian Jacob and The Tierney Sutton Band.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, a Flashlight Films production, a Kennedy/Marshall Company production, a Malpaso production, a film by Clint Eastwood, “Sully.”  The film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.







No one warned us.  No one said you are going to lose both engines at a lower altitude than any jet in history.


“Brace, brace, brace—head down, stay down!”

Moments after takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia Airport, a flock of birds strikes US Airways flight 1549, taking out both engines at only 2800 feet and causing an immediate, forced water landing.  It is, we will learn, unprecedented.  “No one has ever trained for an incident like that,” notes Tom Hanks, speaking as the titular Captain Chesley Sullenberger in director/producer Clint Eastwood’s “Sully.”

Recounting the real events that took place on that cold day in January 2009, the film also explores their very real aftermath.  The plane carried 150 passengers and five crew members, yet not a single life was lost—not in the air, not in the water.  But as “Sully” reveals, in the days following what quickly came to be known as the Miracle on the Hudson, the pilot with a record of proficiency, years of experience, and calm in the face of potential catastrophe, would be called upon repeatedly to defend his actions to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

It was that part of the story, the one the world didn’t know, that drew Eastwood to the project.  “Anybody who keeps their wits about them when things are going wrong, who can negotiate the problems without panicking, is someone of superior character and interesting to watch on film.  But for me, the real conflict came after, with the investigative board questioning his decisions even though he’d saved so many lives.”

“I’m not an aviator,” says Hanks, “but I know you’re not supposed to be able to make a landing like that.  This was a very pragmatic man who understood the realities of what he’d done and what it meant.  He will never say he’s a hero, but knowing with confidence that he could make that landing?  That was a heroic thing he did.  And he paid a price for it.”

That cost was exacted both during the day, when he and his co-pilot, Jeff Skiles, were being interrogated by the investigative board, and at night, when Sully was haunted by nightmares about what could have happened—what very well might have happened—had he turned that plane around in search of a less watery airfield.  The film, based on Sullenberger and author Jeffrey Zaslow’s book Highest Duty, also focuses largely on the untold story, the details that didn’t make it into those pages.

Producer Allyn Stewart says of initial conversations with Sullenberger, “The second Sully started to give us the details of what happened to him after the event, I realized this was the real architecture of the movie.  We found a great screenwriter, Todd Komarnicki, to adapt the book.  He’s really good at getting under the skin of a normal guy, and that’s the essence of Sully; he’d be the first one to say he’s simply a man who did his job very well.”

“Sully is a man who prepared his whole life to do this one impossible thing that he didn’t know he was preparing for,” Komarnicki observes.  “But when you meet him, after ten minutes with the guy, you understand; you think, ‘Of course he pulled this off and no one else could have.’  But the beauty of this movie is that we’re finally telling the full story.  A true story that no one knows but everyone thinks they know?  What a great mystery to unfold on screen.”

Producer Frank Marshall says, “After everything the world knew about Sully and the landing, what happened to him after he became instantly famous was fascinating.  Todd’s approach to the screenplay was to take a story you’ve heard, like the key elements of that day, and turn it into one you haven’t, giving the audience a real feel of what it was like to be there.”

Another story few people are aware of—one the director himself may have long ago forgotten, but which connects him in a unique way with the subject matter and its subject—came to light when working on “Sully.”  As a young man of 21 in the Army, Eastwood was a passenger on a Navy plane, “catching a free flight from Seattle down to Alameda,” he relates.  “It was stormy and we went down off of Point Reyes, California, in the Pacific, and I found myself in the water, swimming a few miles toward shore, thinking, ‘Well, 21’s not as long as a person wants to live.’”

Producer, and Eastwood’s longtime production manager, Tim Moore states, “What’s remarkable is that Clint remembers exactly how the landing was—that the back end went down and they had to get out pretty fast because they thought it was going to sink quickly, and they just started swimming.  While I don’t think that was a factor in picking this film, I think the commonalities brought back a lot of memories; it’s certainly interesting that this project found its way to him.”

Though he doesn’t equate his experience with that of the passengers and crew on flight 1549, it did provide a certain perspective for one preparing to direct Sully’s story.  “I suppose having been in a similar situation,” Eastwood surmises, “as a pilot I would have chanced a water landing rather than go someplace there’s no runway.”

“Sully was familiar with that area,” the director also notes.  “He knew where the helicopter ports and ferryboats were, so he picked the right spot, where everyone could get to them fast.  It wouldn’t be like being out in the middle of the ocean; he knew somebody would see them.”

“It was the least bad option,” the man himself, Capt. Sullenberger, states.  Having lost thrust in both engines of the A320, he quickly determined that the Hudson River, which runs between New Jersey and Manhattan’s West Side, was their best bet.  “There was nowhere else in the entire New York Metropolitan area long enough, wide enough, or smooth enough to land an airliner.”

Looking back on his experience from just seven-and-a-half years ago, able to now put things into perspective, he says, “Part of the emotional context of this story is that it happened in a time in our history when there was worldwide concern on several fronts: it was post-9/11, we had troops in the Middle East, there was the ’08 financial meltdown…people were worried.  That this happened in Manhattan and that we survived it, well, I think it gave people hope, even ones who were not directly connected with the flight.”

Not only did the filmmakers choose to embrace the actual surroundings in which the event happened by shooting as much as possible in New York City, they also sought to involve a good number of its citizens who were there that day in the film.  This not only meant reaching out to them for research purposes, by talking about what they remember, but also recruiting many who were part of the rescue to reenact their efforts for the cameras.  Both air and water rescuers and several Red Cross staff and volunteers returned to the “scene” to recreate their own heroics of the day, reinforcing what Sullenberger himself has observed on many occasions: that the positive outcome was not due just to the swift and steady actions of one, but also the fortitude of many.



What if I did get this wrong?  What if I  endangered the lives of all those passengers?

The Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger the world has come to know began flying at the age of 14, “as soon as he was tall enough to see outside the cockpit of the plane,” quips Tom Hanks.  The young pilot then attended the United States Air Force Academy and flew fighter jets in the service for five years, attaining the rank of captain, before taking the controls of a commercial airliner.  “The life of a professional aviator,” the actor continues.  “If he tallied it up, I think he’d have something like 20,000 hours as the guy in charge of the plane.  That’s a lot of take-offs and landings, a lot of looking at gauges to see if anything is wrong, and a few hairy moments here and there in the course of a career.”

But nothing like what he faced in those 208 seconds that would come to represent the culmination of his life’s experiences.  Pilots work hard to prepare for any circumstances they could face in the air, and suddenly Sully was faced with the challenge of his career.  “A flock of geese got sucked into the engines and boom! he was essentially flying a powerless glider with 155 souls on board—his included.  It’s a good thing he had those 20,000 hours of experience behind him,” Hanks offers.

The role of Sully was one the always-in-demand Hanks couldn’t turn down, despite having to postpone a well-earned break.  “Sometimes you read something that is so stirring and at the same time so simple, such a perfect blend of behavior and procedure,” he reflects.  “Now, I’m as competitive as the next actor, so I knew I wanted at least a shot at it, even though I’d been working pretty steadily for about six years.  Sure I was beat but, not unlike a solid jolt of adrenaline, this role, Sully, Mr. Clint Eastwood…they all came along.  I felt like I couldn’t pass up a chance at playing in this great double-header at the end of this long baseball season.”

Although the two had never worked together before, Eastwood says, “Tom was one of the first people we thought about for the part.  But at the time he was just finishing a picture and we didn’t think we could get him.  But he read the script and liked it and made himself available.  And he was terrific, a consummate pro, and it was kind of effortless working with him.”

Stewart relates, “Sully has that ‘everyman’ quality that I think reminded Clint of Jimmy Stewart, and once that was in our minds we thought, ‘Well, there’s no one like that but Tom Hanks.’”

The filmmakers also appreciated what Hanks brought to the shoot when the cameras weren’t rolling.  Offers Eastwood, “He has a great sense of humor, so that makes it fun.  He’d be standing around waiting, sometimes in the rain, and still making the crew laugh.”

Despite his easygoing demeanor on set, Hanks admits that when playing a real person “you’re always intimidated.  You say to yourself, ‘I’ll never sound like him, I’ll never look like him.  Hopefully I can embody some aspect, capture some part of his personality, his characteristics, his gravitas, his charm,’ whomever the person may be.  And then you go to work.”

The subject of Hanks’ portrayal had no qualms about the actor stepping into his shoes.  “Besides the fact that they were making a movie, directed by such a gifted storyteller as Clint Eastwood, to then have Tom Hanks playing me…it’s a dream team,” says Sullenberger.  “I know Tom is someone who can transform himself, but the first time I saw a long-range shot of him in costume, with his hair colored?  Wow.  It was amazing.”

In fact, prior to production Sullenberger’s wife, Lorrie, was most excited to see the two men together.  “When I saw Tom for the first time, it was so strange.  Then later I would find myself looking at my husband, thinking, ‘His hair looks just like Tom’s…wait…Tom’s looks just like Sully’s!’” she laughs.

In addition to pulling off an accurate physical representation of the man, Hanks would also be tasked with recreating the most challenging moments in Sully’s life, not just outwardly, but internally.  The actor would need to convey the pilot’s rapid-fire thought processes that led to his ability to control the seemingly uncontrollable situation with which he was faced, despite never having trained for this exact event apart from theoretical classroom discussions.

Joining Hanks on the flight deck, Aaron Eckhart took on the role of co-pilot Jeff Skiles.  Eckhart says he was very affected by the screenplay for “Sully.”  “It was structured beautifully, because from the time they took off to the time they hit the birds was three and a half minutes.  How do you make a whole movie about that?  But it was very emotional and managed to build tension throughout the story, showing the audience what went on for these two men who were, to the outside world, hailed as heroes.  I think it’s a heroic story, with good lessons to be learned.”

To prepare for the scenes that depict those critical moments in the air, Sullenberger had explained to them his own process at the time.  His first three thoughts—all within mere seconds—had covered disbelief, denial, and realization.  He told them that those thoughts led to three clear actions: force himself to be calm, set clear priorities, and manage the workload, not trying to do too much, but doing what they could to solve the problems, one by one, in the small amount of time they had.  Hanks and Eckhart would have to internalize the intellectual elements of that progression and then show exactly how, having accepted what they were dealing with, Sully and Skiles were able to land the plane.

What most people might be unaware of, just as these two actors were prior to the project, is that Sully and Skiles, who worked together like a well-oiled machine, had met for the first time just a few days before the flight—a common occurrence considering the thousands of pilots traversing the globe at any given time.  Fortunately their training allows them to communicate effortlessly and assist each other when there isn’t time to talk everything out.

Prior to filming, Eckhart contacted Skiles as well.  Recalling their conversation, Skiles says, “We spoke for a couple of hours and he asked me a lot of questions about being a pilot, not just why I wanted to be one but also why I continue to do so after that day.”

“Jeff told me that first and foremost, they were always in control of the flight; they felt they could make a good landing, a controlled landing, in the Hudson,” Eckhart says.  “He also talked about the effect going through that trauma had on them afterward: stress, lack of sleep, loss of appetite, nervousness, that sort of thing.  It lasted two or three months and they got counseling.  And he’s still flying today; he’s a captain himself now.”

Like Hanks, Eckhart was also able to strongly resemble his counterpart in both appearance and manner.  Marshall felt the production was very lucky in that “there were two really interesting guys in the cockpit when this happened.  Sully is a more reserved, quieter guy, and Jeff Skiles is pretty funny.  And Aaron brought a sort of lightheartedness to what we see in the film is a very heavy situation.  It’s nice to see the dynamic between the two real men played out by Tom and Aaron so well.”

“Tom’s an extraordinary actor,” Eckhart adds.  “He’s so in command, it’s effortless.  I’d like to think working with him had an effect on me; I’d like to learn some of his tricks.”

Both men spent time in flight simulators prior to filming in order to look the part when the cameras rolled.  “We practiced with both Captain Sullenberger and Mr. Eastwood there,” Eckhart notes, offering that the actors eventually got the hang of it well enough for their scenes.  “Pilots look so relaxed; it’s like home in there for them, so we felt a responsibility to do it right.  We got a good feel for it.”

“We invited Sully’s participation whenever he was available,” Eastwood states.  “He kindly arranged for the simulators and pilots to show Tom and Aaron exactly how it would work.  They got the cram course, but they went to town.”

While tackling a persona so well known in the media was part of Hanks’ challenge, his real concern, he says, “was to embody Sully’s level of experience and expertise in the cockpit.”  No amount of reassurance from Sullenberger could compare to what Hanks felt when he took the simulator’s controls.  “He kept saying, ‘You’ll see what it’s like to fly when you get in the simulator,’ and I’ll tell you, it was the most lifelike experience.  It feels exactly as though you are in a plane, it requires no imagination because the physics of it—the tilting, the motion—it’s amazing.”

Both actors discovered during their training that Skiles had actually handled the take-off that day, because co-pilots have to make a scheduled number of take-offs in order to qualify as captains.  As in the film, Sullenberger took over after the bird strike, having more hours under his belt.

Eastwood not only observed the simulations, he also filmed them so the actors could watch and learn from their practice runs.  Hanks says, “Luckily, we had the flight plan, we knew what we were supposed to do and pushed the buttons when we were supposed to, which we worked on a lot.  It was a fun way to spend a day, but you also got this experiential aspect of being in a real no-nonsense atmosphere, as well as how truly short a period of time this all happened in and how many decisions and feelings that had to have gone into it for Sully and Skiles.  In the end, Aaron and I were both eager to make sure we looked like we knew what we were doing in order to do right by them.”



I want you to know I did the best I could.


Of course you did.  You saved everyone.

Almost immediately after confirming that each of his passengers has made it to safety, we watch as Sully takes out his cell phone and calls his wife in California.  She has not yet heard of the incident, and is confused by his assurances that he is okay.  Then she turns on the TV to see the first of many reports that will feature her husband in the days to come.

Laura Linney was cast in the pivotal role of Lorrie Sullenberger before she’d even read the script.  Linney worked with Eastwood previously, first when he directed her as his character’s daughter in “Absolute Power,” and later in “Mystic River,” and was happy to do so again.

“When someone as wonderful as Clint Eastwood asks you to be a part of something, you just jump in,” she relates.  “You know you’re going to have a great time, it’s going to be interesting material, you’re going to be with great people, and reunited with the crew who work so beautifully together and are so good to you while you’re working.  Clint quietly and elegantly creates an atmosphere that is just a joy to work in, just heaven.  I’d be an extra for him for the rest of my life and be very happy!”

Lorrie Sullenberger was more than pleased with the casting.  “Laura is such an accomplished actress and I was absolutely thrilled when they told me.  Before we knew, Sully and I played the casting game in our heads.  Now, I can’t even think of anybody else doing it except her.”

Linney was impressed by Lorrie’s ability to handle, emotionally, all that was happening to her husband 3,000 miles away and at the same time deal with the encampment of press that had sprouted on her front lawn.

“It was all over the news and their lives changed instantly, yet she was removed from it, too,” Linney considers.  “Her contact with him was on the phone, and that’s difficult to imagine, knowing your spouse has gone through something as traumatic as this and not being able to see him for several days… She gets his voice and she gets to watch him on television, but that’s it.”

In the film, much of Sully’s time right after the landing is taken up by the NTSB.  In reality, the NTSB hearings didn’t actually take place until 18 months later; the filmmakers took dramatic license, condensing the events in order to present the full story within the timeframe of the movie.

It was a choice that Hanks appreciated.  “I thought they were some of the most fascinating moments for the character and the movie,” he says.  “They were the most delicious things for me to play because the stakes are huge throughout that process.”

The actor was also given the benefit of Sullenberger’s unique perspective on what can be, at times, quite adversarial hearings, seeing as the captain has also conducted investigations and therefore experienced both sides of the procedures.  Hanks expounds, “Sully himself told me, ‘Look, these are good people on the other side of that table.’  He knows what they’re doing, and that they might not have all of the information.  But there’s a very expensive piece of equipment in the river and they need to figure out exactly what happened.”

The film’s NTSB team is comprised of Mike O’Malley as lead investigator Charles Porter; Jamey Sheridan as Ben Edwards; and Anna Gunn as Elizabeth Davis.  On Sully and Skiles’ side of the table, Holt McCallany plays union rep Mike Cleary, and Chris Bauer is US Airways’ Larry Rooney.

The three flight attendants on the plane that day—Shiela Dail, Donna Dent and Doreen Welsh—are played in the film by Jane Gabbert, Ann Cusack and Molly Hagan, respectively.  And Patch Darragh plays Patrick Harten, the air traffic controller who took Sully’s mayday call and tried to find the plane a nearby runway on which to land.

“Sully” not only features the terrifying moments that everyone on the plane went through, but also the incredible rescue efforts that were immediately undertaken to get the stranded passengers out of the river’s frigid waters.  In fact, Eastwood’s team sought out as many of the individuals who actually helped that day to appear in the film.  Among them, Captain Vincent Peter Lombardi, who had commanded the Thomas Jefferson ferryboat, plays himself, once again turning the vessel toward the downed aircraft.

Officer Michael Delaney and Detective Robert Rodriguez, both part of the NYPD SCUBA Air/Sea Rescue Unit out of Floyd Bennet Field in Brooklyn, also participated in filming.  Delaney, who is played in the movie by actor Jerry Ferrara, contributed stunt work, as did Rodrigquez; during production, these brave divers remarked that, although they jump out of helicopters as part of their job, doing it for a movie, without the adrenaline rush that comes with a real emergency, made the activity seem like a crazy thing to do!  In addition, among the Red Cross staff and volunteers who were there that day to distribute blankets and warm clothing (the most requested item being dry socks), a dozen or so reenacted their efforts for the movie, including Chris Mercado, Regional Director of the organization’s Greater New York Chapter.

Several New York area newscasters also appear as themselves in the film, including Randall Pinkston, Bobby Cuza and Kristine Johnson.  And real-life pilots Captain Larry Guthrie, Captain Lucy Young, Captain Lori Cline, and First Officer Jon Witten appear in the film as the flight simulator operators.



Our job is to investigate how a plane ended up in the Hudson River.


On the Hudson.

The exteriors for “Sully” were shot primarily on location in New York City—where better to recreate the events of the day than right along the Hudson and its surrounding piers, which had served the real participants so well at the time?

To go from script to screen, Eastwood worked with his customary behind-the-scenes creative partners, director of photography Tom Stern, production designer James J. Murakami, costume designer Deborah Hopper, and editor Blu Murray.  Using IMAX’s customized ARRI ALEXA 65 cameras whenever possible and RED cameras for 2nd unit and aerial work, filming began in the early fall of 2015 at a hangar in Kearny, New Jersey, where the film’s NYPD dive unit officers jumped into a waiting helicopter after receiving the emergency call.

On subsequent days, crowd reaction shots to the imagined plane landing were captured on the Upper West Side’s George Washington Bridge, at the Time Warner Center and in Columbus Circle.  Pier 81, near the Intrepid, was home base for the ferry work, and the production utilized NY Waterway ferries, just like those that responded on the real day.

A sequence of Sully moving through the airport to reach the ill-fated flight was shot in the US Airways terminal at LaGuardia Airport, and a scene where he and Skiles “walk and talk” in the city was filmed along Fifth Avenue, between 55th and 57th streets.  The final day of filming in New York took the production all over the city as Sully tries to “jog off” his demons, starting at the East River and wrapping in Times Square at 2:00 a.m.

“New York City is really a collection of small towns, so as you walk around, you go from one to the next,” Hanks observes.  “It seemed like everyone knew we were making this movie which is, in a lot of ways, a quintessential New York story.  There was definitely an air of goodwill, and because I had the shock of white hair?  Oh, man, did I get a lot of ‘Hey, Sully!’ ‘Way to go!’ and ‘Miracle-on-the-Hudson man!’ shout outs.  Everybody felt a part of it, and that was really gratifying.”

New Yorkers aside, securing the cooperation of certain necessary entities wasn’t always easy.  Tim Moore explains, “NY Waterways was crucial to us because they’d had like nine ferryboats around the plane in 2009.  But with the business they run and the fact that we were there during the busiest part of their year, and the Pope was in New York, and the United Nations was meeting with all the foreign dignitaries of what seemed like every country… Logistically it was somewhat difficult, but thankfully they came in and helped us tremendously.”

The weather was a bit less cooperative during their time in the city; however, on the plus side, “It did give us the look that Clint wanted,” Moore smiles.

Once the production moved on from New York, several scenes were accomplished at various spots in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Healy Building and the JW Marriott – Buckhead doubled for the exterior and interiors for Sully and Skiles’ stay at the Alex Hotel.  The Atlanta Center for Medical Research served as St. Luke’s Hospital.  And Meehan’s Public House substituted for the Landmark Tavern, where Sully stops in for a drink.

The filmmakers also shot scenes in Sully’s hotel room at the Courtyard Atlanta in Norcross; used a private home in Alpharetta as Sully and Lorrie’s house; went to the Peach State Aerodome in Williamson to recreate scenes on a Texas airfield landing strip; and used space at Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville to create several interiors, including the air traffic control room and office and the NTSB hearing room.

From the South production moved to Southern California, specifically the backlots of both Warner Bros. Studios and Universal Studios.

The flight deck of the A320 was created on Warner Bros.’ Stage 19 and the set was supported on a gimbal, but because there aren’t many water tanks available in Hollywood that can hold a 140-foot airplane, the filmmakers were happy to go to neighboring Falls Lake at Universal.  Not only was there room for the Airbus, but they were also able to build a couple of facades for the ferryboats to match the wide shots collected in New York, to which visual effects supervisor Michael Owens would later add the plane.

During the time the plane was sitting in the Hudson it was canted, with the back portion of the cabin half-submerged.  The production utilized a 350-ton gimbal, much larger than the one used for the cockpit alone, to tilt the plane forward and backward and sideways.  The gimbal also allowed them to raise and lower the plane to replicate it slowing sinking as more passengers exited the cabin.  When the first passengers get to the wings they are relatively dry; by the time of the rescue, they are standing in two feet of water.

Since the real event, US Airways was bought by American Airlines, who, Stewart says, “was incredibly helpful to us in assembling all the airplane pieces we needed.  They were happy to be involved because this is an incredible memory for anyone in that industry.  In the history of aviation, this is an extraordinary—and positive—event.”

Just as it was critical that the plane and the actions of January 15, 2009, rang true in the film, it was equally necessary for the actors and extras to look the part.  Costume designer Deborah Hopper, who has worked with Eastwood on over 20 films throughout her career, knows that he strives for authenticity in his productions, and made sure to stay true to the authentic imagery for the costumes seen within the film.  As part of the necessary research involved in such a project, she reviewed extensive news coverage and as many other media sources as she could find in order to get a feel for the clothing worn by the passengers and rescue teams.

“Of course, Sully and Skiles’ uniforms are authentic, exactly what US airline pilots wore at the time,” she states.  “And after the landing, neither of them had any dry clothes, so they were provided jogging outfits to change into by the authorities in charge of the investigation, which we replicated in the film.”

For a later point in the story showcasing the investigation that followed in the aftermath of the 15th, Hopper put Hanks in a suit inspired by her research.  “I had seen images of Sully when he was in Washington for the hearings and he was wearing a navy pinstripe suit, so I had one made for Tom,” she remarks.

One particular aspect of the filming involving the immersion of the actors in water proved to be a challenge for Hopper and her team.  “We had to have an abundance of multiple pieces to account for the changing water levels, and to keep everyone as comfortable as possible while maintaining the correct look of their clothes.  For Tom, we had at least six of everything—six uniform shirts, six uniform pants—and wetsuits for him to wear under them when he was working in water.”



I’ve got 40 years in the air, but in the end, I’m gonna be judged on 208 seconds.

With such themes as hope, bravery and resilience woven into the story of “Sully,” Eastwood wanted the music in the film to reflect what the passengers and crew of Flight 1549 had gone through, and also allow moviegoers to remain immersed in the cinematic experience once they leave the theater.  With Christian Jacob and The Tierney Sutton Band composing the film’s score, Eastwood wrote, along with Tierney Sutton and J.B. Eckl, the song “Flying Home (Theme from ‘Sully’),” performed by The Tierney Sutton Band.  The song is an apt accompaniment to an emotional postscript when the real Sully, Lorrie Sullenberger and more than 50 of the survivors gather for a reunion at the Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the Airbus is on display as a symbol of the heroic efforts of everyone that day.

“If you’re a fireman, a cop, a soldier, an aviator, heroism is going to be expected of you at any time,” Hanks contends.  “To me, a hero is someone who thinks and acts beyond himself in order to make things right for other people.  Sully certainly did that, simply by doing his job, by knowing he could make the landing.  He did not have time for fear.  He had mere seconds to process billions of bits of information, both book-learned and from his own experience, and he proved that he was the guy who was prepared for anything.”

The unassuming man at the controls on January 15, 2009, prefers to recognize the efforts of all involved rather than to be singled out, and he’s happy that this film allows for such recognition.  “People came together of their own initiative and did their jobs exceedingly well, and that’s what saved all of our lives,” Capt. Sullenberger says.  “And I think that’s why we’ll always remember that day and that flight.  We have much to be grateful for and much to celebrate.”

Eastwood states, “Hopefully this picture shows the good result that can come from a bad situation.  That when something’s going wrong, there are people out there like Capt. Sullenberger  who will risk a lot—their time, their efforts, even their lives—on behalf of others.  The movie is called ‘Sully,’ but it’s really about the best in all of us.”


On January 15, 2009,

More than 1,200 first responders

And 7 ferry boats carrying 130 commuters,

Rescued the passengers and crew of flight 1549.

The best of New York came together.

It took them 24 minutes.