Paul Greengrass’ News of the World is a film that delivers on much of what audiences have come to expect when it comes to big screen westerns, but if there’s one particular thing that sets it apart it’s the profession of its protagonist. Tom Hanks stars in the film not as a sheriff, a bounty hunter, or a farmer, but rather as a journalist who travels from town to town delivering staged readings of the national news. It’s a fascinating aspect of the movie and one of its great strengths, as the performances fully capitalize on Hanks’ natural charisma, but what makes them even more interesting is that they were apparently a subject of serious debate between the director and star, who fundamentally disagreed on exactly how the news should be delivered.
Tom Hanks and Paul Greengrass have previous work history together, having collaborated on 2013’s Captain Phillips, but they found themselves butting heads over that particular issue in the making of their second movie, as I learned earlier this week during the News of the World’s virtual press day. As captured in the video up top, I asked the star if his experience with the filmmaker was different during the production given that they were making was a totally different kind of feature, and Hanks detailed how they had trouble seeing eye-to-eye over a crucial element of the story.
Talking about the day on set when they shot his character’s first news reading, Tom Hanks said,
Considering how significant the news readings are in News Of The World, that was a pretty big issue to be at loggerheads about. And while it doesn’t sound like the two men were exactly ready to start throwing blows, the actor explained that they were seriously staunch in their opinions, and suggested it wasn’t always what one might call friendly.
Emphasizing with his hands, Tom Hanks continued,
What Tom Hanks and Paul Greengrass ultimately found, however, was that the conflict was a good thing for the film. Clearly it’s a nice thing when everybody on a set is totally on-board with the way things are happening, but even when that’s not happening that creates the opportunity for constructive conversation. The actor and the director held strong, opposing viewpoints on the way a key piece of News Of The World was handled, but their clash gave them the chance to find a middle ground that made them both satisfied.
When I asked Paul Greengrass about the clash in a one-on-one interview later that day, he described the experience with an apt hiking metaphor, saying,
While a filmmaker can make every possible effort to organize their work in pre-production, there is in truth no way to fully prepare for the on-set experience, as new perspective are constantly earned and offered. As Paul Greengrass explained, however, that’s what makes trust incredibly important, and he definitely trusted Tom Hanks in the making of News Of The World:
Based on the novel of the same name by Paulette Jiles, News Of The World co-stars Helena Zengel, Elizabeth Marvel, Ray McKinnon, Mare Winningham, Thomas Francis Murphy, and Michael Angelo Covino, and will be playing in theaters where available on Christmas Day. We have plenty more coverage coming your way from our interview with Tom Hanks, so be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend.
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