Captain Phillips is an American thriller film directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi. The film is based on the true story of the 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking, an incident during which merchant mariner Captain Richard Phillips was taken hostage by pirates in the Indian Ocean led by Abduwali Muse.
The screenplay was written by Billy Ray, and is based on the 2010 book 'A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea' by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty. Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca served as producers on the project. It premiered at the 2013 New York Film Festival, and was theatrically released in the US on 11 October 2013.
The film emerged as a box office success with earnings of over $217 million against a budget of $55 million. In 2014, Captain Phillips received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Abdi. It won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. It also won awards from the American Film Institute, the American Cinema Editors' Institute, and the London Film Critics' Circle.
Shortly after the publication of Richard Phillips's memoir 'A Captain's Duty' in 2010, Sony Pictures optioned the film rights. In March 2011, actor Tom Hanks attached himself to the project after reading a draft of the screenplay by Billy Ray. During the following June, director Paul Greengrass was offered the helm of the then-untitled film adaptation. A worldwide search subsequently began to find the film's supporting Somali cast. From this search, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, and Mahat M. Ali were chosen from among more than 700 participants at a 2011 casting call at the Brian Coyle Community Center in Cedar-Riverside, Minneapolis. According to the search casting director, Debbie DeLisi, the four actors were selected because they were "the chosen ones, that anointed group that stuck out."
Producers visited the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum to see the bullet-scarred, five-ton fiberglass lifeboat aboard which the pirates held Capt. Phillips hostage so that they could accurately re-create the boat and interiors for the set. They were also able to view an example of the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle UAV, used to monitor the crisis, as well as the Mark 11 Mod 0 (SR-25) sniper rifle (the type used by the U.S. Navy SEALs), both also on display at the museum.
Principal photography for Captain Phillips began on 26 March 2012. Filming took place off the coast of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. Nine weeks were spent filming aboard the Alexander Maersk, a container ship identical to the Maersk Alabama; it was chartered on commercial terms.
The USS Truxtun, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and sister ship of USS Bainbridge, served as a set piece in the film.