Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Businessweek
Pursuits

Hero of Captain Phillips Movie Portrayed as Villain in Lawsuit

Tom Hanks (left) and Barkhad Abdirahman in Captain Phillips
Tom Hanks (left) and Barkhad Abdirahman in Captain PhillipsPhotograph by Jasin Boland/Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection

The big movie this weekend is the well-reviewed Captain Phillips, a high-seas piracy drama based on a 2009 hijacking in which Tom Hanks plays the eponymous Richard Phillips. In real life, some of Phillips’s former crew members are complaining about how Hollywood told their story. The unhappy seamen allege that the filmmakers, in their eagerness to portray Phillips as a classic hero, fudged key facts. And since this is America, the dissident crew members are lodging their complaints via lawsuits against the owners of the hijacked freighter.

The legal actions in Alabama (PDF) and Texas (PDF) seek unspecified monetary damages. The suits do not name Phillips or formally accuse him of wrongdoing. A trial is scheduled to begin in Mobile, Ala., in December.