When it came to making Captain Phillips, for Tom Hanks, it was all hands on deck.
The two-time Oscar winner opened up to Parade about the challenges of turning this riveting real-life drama on the high seas into a big-screen thriller that's already being hailed as one of this year's big studio Oscar entries by critics.
E! News has the exclusive first look of the sit-down, which also saw Hanks chat with the man he's portraying—Capt. Richard Phillips.
In 2009, Phillips was taken hostage by Somali pirates who hijacked his ship, the MV Maersk Alabama, before being rescued by Navy SEAL snipers. When asked about whether it's difficult translating such true events into a film, Hanks noted the story was spellbinding enough that it had all the necessary ingredients Hollywood could hope for.
"By and large, the making of motion picture is all about 'Let's ratchet it up.' And I always think, 'We don't need to ratchet this up.' If you do, don't call it Captain Phillips or The Maersk Alabama. Call it something else, and then you have carte blanche to do anything, down to sea serpents and aliens," the 57-year-old actor told the magazine.
On whether anyone can rise to the occasion and act as heroically as Phillips did in real life, Hanks was less sanguine.
"Not everybody, no. Some people are cowards," he said. "I think by and large a third of people are villains, a third are cowards, and a third are heroes. Now, a villain and a coward can choose to be a hero, but they've got to make that choice."
As to his own responsibility in playing a real person, the thespian has a lot of experience in that department, having portrayed NASA Astronaut Jim Lovell to great acclaim in Apollo 13 and the titular character in Charlie Wilson's War.
Regarding his role as Capt. Phillips, Hanks noted: "I think it's important not to redefine somebody's motivations…You've got to be a journalist and a historian and a filmmaker all at the same time."
On meeting the men who played the Somali bad guys in the flick, all of whom hailed from the Somali community in Minneapolis, Tom laughed and said he "never felt more like an out-of-shape, middle-aged white man" in his life.
For his part, Capt. Phillips downplayed any suggestions that he's a hero for surviving his ordeal, saying he was just doing "my job."
"I feel glad that I didn't lose any of my crew," he told the magazine.
Added Hanks: "I have never met someone who did a heroic thing who didn't say, 'I was just doing my job."
Captain Phillips, directed by Paul Greengrass, sails into theaters on Oct. 11.