Cover art for podcast Based on a True Story

Based on a True Story

205 EpisodesProduced by Dan LeFebvreWebsite

We've all seen the movies that claim to be 'based on a true story', but have you ever wondered how historically accurate they are? That's what we'll find out as we compare Hollywood with history.


Captain Phillips

Between 2004 and 2016, Paul Greengrass directed a total of six movies. Four of those have Matt Damon in them. Three of them are about the fictitious Jason Bourne character. Two of them are based on a true story.

Today, we're going to be looking at one of those movies.

In an effort to make 2013's Captain Phillips as authentic as possible, Paul Greengrass kept two groups of actors separate. One group had Tom Hanks playing the man the movie is named after, Captain Rich Phillips. In the other group were the actors portraying the Somali pirates.

These two groups of actors never met until their roles on set together. In an interview after the film was released, Tom Hanks explained, "We were kept separate for all that time. We could see guys that looked like they were Somalis but we didn't know who was who until they came roaring into us the day that we were shooting the scene where they were taking over the bridge of the ship."

Despite attempts at making the film as realistic as possible by doing things like keeping the actors separate, after Captain Phillips was released, many of the crewmen claimed the movie didn't accurately depict what happened.

With a budget of $55 million, Captain Phillips made about half that on opening weekend on its way to a profitable $107 million in theaters. It was also nominated for six Oscars, and while it didn't end up winning at the Academy Awards, much of the movie's success can be attributed to the amazingly intense way the film portrays the situation. It seems so real. But is it?

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