Aaron Eckhart (I, Frankenstein, Olympus Has Fallen) has been cast as the first officer and co-pilot, Jeff Skiles, in Warner Bros.’ biopic of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, writes The Hollywood Reporter. In a one-two punch, Hollywood heavy-hitters Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby) and Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips) were named two months ago as director and lead actor, respectively. The announcement immediately led to early Oscar buzz.
On January 15, 2009, U.S. Airways Flight 1549, carrying 150 passengers and 5 crew members, was hit by a flock of birds shortly after takeoff from La Guardia airport, causing an almost-total loss of thrust in both engines. Skiles was manually flying the Airbus A320-214 at the time. Both he and Sullenberger expertly maneuvered the plane to a miraculously safe landing on New York’s Hudson River. Widely covered in the media at the time, the incident instantly propelled Sullenberger to national hero status. The film promises to provide meaty opportunities for Eckhart and Hanks to display heroic leadership, extraordinary competence, preternatural calm, and unflagging courage in the face of adversity in this remarkable true-life story.
Todd Komarnicki (Perfect Stranger) is writing the script, based on the 2010 autobiographical book by Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow, “Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters.” Frank Marshall, who acquired the rights to the book in 2010, Allyn Stewart, Eastwood, and Tim Moore will produce. The production schedule for the Sully movie has not yet been announced, but with this major casting news, that announcement will likely come soon.