In comments released to mark the Dec. 2 UK opening of Sully: Miracle On The Hudson, the director who epitomized the lone hero in his days as an actor said the word “hero” has become used so often its losing its meaning.
Clint Eastwood directed the movie which portrays the true story of the pilot who landed a passenger plane on the Hudson River back in 2009. Eastwood said although pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger deserves the mantle of “hero,” the word is used too much.
“It’s certainly different to when I grew up,” said Eastwood.
“It’s all in this sort of politically correct thing where everyone has to win a prize. All the little boys in the class have to go home with a first place trophy,” he added.
“The use of the word ‘hero’ is a little bit overdone but I don’t think so in Sully’s case. He went extra and beyond what was expected,” he said.
Reviewers noted Eastwood’s unusual treatment of heroism.
In reviewing the movie, Peter LaBuza of The Gothamist noted that Eastwood does not make Sullenberger an over-the-top hero.
“In lieu of heroism, Eastwood has created a film of simple people doing simple things, dramatic conflict sketched in brief sequences in a kaleidoscopic fashion,” he wrote, saying elsewhere in his review, “The film never defines the human factor that led to the Miracle on the Hudson, but it does its best to witness to it.”
In his review, Richard Brody of the New Yorker weighs in on the subject of heroism by noting, “Eastwood looks past the media representation to seek the essence of heroism, shattering the shining heroic veneer and restoring its tragic nature through the looming terror of death.”
“The movie is about a real-life action hero who is nearly destroyed by pencil-pushing bureaucrats lacking a scintilla of his experience—and about precisely the kind of knowledge and experience that Sully relies on to pull off the landing,” he wrote.
Eastwood’s comments were seconded by Tom Hanks, who stars as Sullenberger.
“The textbook definition of a hero is someone who voluntarily puts themselves in harm’s way for the betterment of others. That happens on occasion and it is a ridiculously overused word because it’s a shorthand for accomplishment,” he said.
He continued, “Not all accomplishments are heroic accomplishments. Sometimes it’s just people doing the right thing and you don’t necessarily deserve kudos for doing the right thing.”
Although often hailed, Hanks said heroism is very unusual.
“Heroism is rare as lightning storms,” he said.
For his part, Hanks made sure to separate his life as an actor from the heroics he acts out.
“I’m an actor. I haven’t done anything that’s near death,” he said.
“Once I had to swim in the open ocean in Cast Away, oh jeepers. Terrible. Crazy. I’ve never experienced anything remotely like this.”
Hanks said that in real life, he is not the action-packed leading man he often portrays.
“There’s four roles for us in real life. You can be a hero, villain, coward or bystander. I’m the bystander,” he said.
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