“There’s a thousand challenges on any project,” admits “Sully” screenwriter Todd Komarnicki during our recent webcam chat (watch above), “but I also had the secret weapon of knowing the true, untold story.” Directed by Clint Eastwood, this Warner Bros. release stars Tom Hanks as Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who successfully landed a plane in the Hudson River, saving the lives of everyone onboard. While audiences may know the story of the hero pilot, “nobody knew about the investigation with the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board),” and how Sully, “could’ve lost everything.” For Komarnicki, “that alleviated any thought that I wouldn’t have enough pages to fill.”
In researching the project, the writer discovered that, “excellence is not dead.” Upon meeting Sullenberger for the first time, he reveals, “this physical sensation came to me. I thought, ‘Yes, of course this man landed a plane on the Hudson River. That’s his aura.” He’s a man who takes seriously, “his responsibility of delivering someone from one place to another, back to their loved ones, back to their home. It was always a sacred trust for Sully.”
He had high praise for Eastwood, who, “takes care of writers,” and who famously, “shoots the script without changes.” The one modification the director made was, “putting in some real-life characters who were actually on the plane.” When first writing the script, “the producers didn’t have money to tie up a bunch of life-rights for a bunch of passengers, so I had types.” Once Clint came onboard, “we were able to do that.”
Komarnicki’s next script to make it to the screen will be “The Professor and the Madman,” starring Mel Gibson and Sean Penn. He’s currently prepping “The God Four,” which he is also directing. Check out our full interview above for more about his work on “Sully.”
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