Why Tom Hanks’ Greyhound Relied On CGI Over Practical Effects

Tom Hanks in Greyhound

The new Tom Hanks film Greyhound, sets the Oscar-winning actor in World War II, a place he's been before. While movies like Saving Private Ryan largely weren't filmed at the actual locations of the war, they were filmed using mostly practical locations and effects. Greyhound, however, is very much a film of its own time, and that means it's made up of a lot of digital effects. Tom Hanks, says that's just how it's done these days.

Speaking with CinemaBlend ahead of the release of Greyhound, Tom Hanks told us that, while the film is made up of a lot of real elements, they all get stitched together in the computer to create the movie that we see. Hanks doesn't have a problem with this. Hanks told us...

We shot on a set in Baton Rouge. And we shot on board the USS Kidd, that is usually sitting on the bottom of the Mississippi River there in Baton Rouge. Everything else in this movie was taken from footage in the form of plates and repurposed in the computer. You can say that much of it is animated, but so much of movies are animated, that are CGI environments, background, skylines, and skies. The water here was water that was taken from reference footage. Shelley Johnson went off with the Canadian Navy out into the frozen environs of the North Atlantic to get an awful lot of the seascapes that are in the movie. All of the ships that appear were taken from reference photographs that were then repurposed and rebuilt by the expertise of our technicians inside computers and whatnot. Which sounds like it's unique. It's not. It's how all movies are made now, no matter what the subject matter, or even in the era that it comes out.

Digital effects have certainly become the standard in filmmaking today. In the end, trying to do things any other way can just make things more difficult and expensive. For better or worse, the Hollywood system is designed for doing things digitally now.

Everything that we see in Greyhound is based on real images and reference footage to make it look as real as possible, but it's ultimately, as Tom Hanks says, "animated." There's a feeling from many that practical effects and real locations are inherently superior to creating everything digitally. For what it's worth, not everything is digital in the film. Tom Hanks continues...

We had the glamorous, old school dunk tanks and fans and hoses and water that was water cannons that were thrown up on us. But, this movie was made on a rocking gimbal of a set that was the bridge and the deck of ship, the codename Greyhound, and on the actual iron steel decks of the USS Kidd, which is an actual Fletcher class destroyer that luckily… I think it might be the only authentically preserved destroyer, uh, certainly in America.

In the end, it doesn't really matter where an effet is digital or practical, as long as it works. We'll find out if it all works in Greyhound when the movie arrives on Apple TV+ on July 10.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.