'Sully' Premiere: Clint Eastwood Defends Scenes of Planes Crashing Into Manhattan Skyscrapers

Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Frank Marshall and more hit the buzzy NYC premiere of the film — out, coincidentally, on the Sept. 11 anniversary weekend.
Jim Spellman/WireImage
Aaron Eckhart, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks

Just blocks away from the Hudson River, Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks and the cast of Sully touched down at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall for the Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow docudrama's New York premiere.

In the film, Hanks portrays Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the American pilot who landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson in January 2009. "His reputation was at stake," the actor told The Hollywood Reporter. "This man had done his job perfectly for 4 million passengers, and, as he says in the movie, his entire career was going to be judged on 208 seconds, as opposed to the thousands and thousands of hours he did his job perfectly."

The big-screen retelling of the Miracle-on-the-Hudson includes sequences of planes crashing into Manhattan skyscrapers. "It's just a bad dream sequence, and what could have happened if he didn't make the right decision," explained Eastwood. "The spirit it gave back the city, even though it was a tragic loss of a plane, there was no tragic loss of life."

Screenwriter Todd Komarnicki further echoed that Sully's feat is "the inverted story of 9/11," and adding the sequences allows Americans "to reclaim that narrative. That narrative was laid on us by people who are enemies of our country; this is a story of heroism in New York City."

As far as the coincidental release of the film of the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Komarnicki attributes it to box-office logistics. "It's totally coincidental because of limited Imax screens ... didn't have room in the summer and Christmas is all Star Wars. Very ironic."

Aaron Eckhart, Mike O'Malley, Frank Marshall and more celebrated the evening at Tavern on the Green with Rita Wilson, Alison Williams, Katie Couric and the plane's real-life crew, plus Sullenberger himself — sans white mustache, a look Wilson embraced on Hanks, her husband. "I considered him a blonde, and he was definitely having more fun!" she laughed.

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