Director Paul Greengrass Addresses “Captain Phillips” Controversy

Richard Phillips and Tom Hanks

Richard Phillips & Tom Hanks – Courtesy of Parade, Miller Mobley

Since the release of “Captain Phillips” directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks — the real crewmembers of the hijacked ship claim the film is filled with inaccurate portrayals. According to, last week, some crew members of the Maersk Alabama—the large vessel that came under Somali pirate attack in 2009—said that the film was inaccurate in its portrayal of the ship’s titular leader. A few crew members claim that Phillips ignored repeated warnings about pirate attacks and instead chose to sail close to the Somali coast, a dangerous area.

Here is Greengrass’ response during from Reddit:

“I’m glad you asked that! I saw those stories too, based upon an “anonymous crew member”. Here are the facts. Shortly after the Mersk Alabama incident was successfully resolved, and Captain Phillips returned home safely, some members of the crew sued Mersk Corporation claiming they had been put in harm’s way. They also alleged that Captain Phillips had ignored warnings to stay away from the coast of Somalia. When we started the film, it was a top priority for me to look into this issue in every detail. And I obviously can’t comment on this lawsuit, but what I can say is that myself, along with my colleague Michael Bronner formerly of 60 minutes, with whom I worked on United 93 and other projects, we researched the background of the Mersk Alabama highjacking in exhausting detail over many months. We spoke to every member of the Alabama crew bar one, all of the U.S. Military responders that played a leading role in these events, and thoroughly researched backgrounds of the 4 pirates and the issue of Somali piracy generally. And I’m 100% satisfied that the picture we present of these events in the film, including the role playing by Captain Phillips, is authentic. I stand by the picture I give in the film, absolutely.”

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