How Harrison Ford Helped Sully Get Made

Sully Tom Hanks

A story such as that of Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger's "Miracle on the Hudson" are pretty much born to become major motion pictures. However, as anyone with an eye on the business can tell you, it takes a lot of work for any sort of story to make it to the big screen. Needless to say, the right connections can get a movie made faster than you can boot up a laptop to start a first draft. In the case of Clint Eastwood's Sully, it owes its existence to a chance meeting between its subject, and none other than Harrison Ford himself.

Producer Frank Marshall recounted the story of how Harrison Ford got involved to The Hollywood Reporter during their Producer's Roundtable, and it's quite an interesting one. Apparently, Ford and Captain Sullenberger met at, of all places, a White House dinner for heroes in aviation. Sullenberger was curious as to how his story would translate to film, and asked Harrison Ford if he thought it'd be a good idea to make the project happen. As Marshall recalled, Ford kicked the process off with the following suggestion:

He gave Sully my phone number, and that's how it all started. I went to the publisher in Beverly Hills, and there's Sully, and I'm awed by this man, and he trusted Harrison and he trusted me, and he said, 'OK, I'm going to give you the rights.'

The rest, as they say, is history. With Frank Marshall obtaining the rights, and Clint Eastwood enamored by the story of the "Miracle on the Hudson" that saved the lives of all passengers and crew aboard Flight 1549, Sully was on its way to becoming a motion picture event. While we all know that Tom Hanks eventually landed the lead, Marshall mentioned that he actually entertained the possibility of Harrison Ford playing the role of Captain Chelsey Sullenberger. While the result is known to us all, the reasoning is Marshall's alone to speculate thusly:

I don't think so. I asked him, of course. But no. I think Harrison wanted to just give us the gift of the story.

If Harrison Ford had decided to play the role of Captain Sullenberger, he would have added an interesting angle to his performance, as he's in possession of an actual pilot's license. Well, that, and seeing as Han Solo is one of the most popular pilots in film history, his professional resume also qualifies him for the hypothetical lead in Sully. However, looking back on Tom Hanks' masterful performance, it's hard to really think of anyone else playing the role.

Sully might still be in select theaters near you, but will definitely be on Blu-ray and DVD on December 20th.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.