Riding high on the success of American Sniper, Clint Eastwood announced earlier this month that he’s developing a movie based on the story of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberg, the pilot who successfully landed a commercial airliner in the Hudson River after its engines failed. Now it appears that Eastwood could have some serious star power lined up for the project, with two-time Oscar-winner Tom Hanks in the lead role.
Hanks is currently in talks to portray the celebrated pilot, according to Deadline, although nothing is official at this point.
The film will reportedly be based on Sullenberg’s 2009 autobiography Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters, which he wrote with Jeffrey Zaslow. The book covers the time leading up to and following the 2009 emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549, which lost power in both engines after a flock of Canadian Geese struck the plane shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York City. Unable to reach a viable airport and descending rapidly, Sullenberg glided the plane into the Hudson River and supervised the evacuation of all 155 passengers, averting tragedy.
Sullenberg was heralded as an American hero in the wake of the event, which came to be known as “The Miracle on the Hudson.”
Eastwood has set up the film at Warner Bros. Pictures, the studio behind American Sniper, his award-winning 2014 film that has earned more than $547 million worldwide to date.
“I am very glad my story is in the hands of gifted storyteller and filmmaker Clint Eastwood,” said Sullenberger of the project when it was first announced in early June. “The project could not have found a better home than Warner Bros. Pictures. This is truly a dream team.”
No stranger to playing real-world heroes ripped from the headlines, Hanks portrayed Captain Richard Phillips in the 2013 movie Captain Phillips, which chronicled the hijacking of U.S. cargo ship MV Maersk Alabama in 2009. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards. Hanks himself has been nominated for five “Best Actor” Oscars over the years, winning two (for Forrest Gump and Philadelphia). He’ll next appear as attorney James B. Donovan in Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies (pictured), which tells the story of Donovan’s efforts to negotiate the release of an American spy-plane pilot who was shot down over the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War.
There’s no title or release date set for the “Miracle on the Hudson” movie yet.