he crew had begged Captain Phillips not to go so close to the Somali coast. He told them he wouldn’t let pirates scare him or force him to sail away from the coast. —Attorney Deborah Waters
Captain Richard Phillips was leading the crew of the Maersk Alabama through dangerous waters in 2009 when his ship was attacked by Somali pirates. His story has been retold on the big screen as "Captain Phillips," which some are saying takes creative liberties with the nature of the event and the man himself.
"Throughout the movie," wrote Heather Fulton at The SeaHawk, "(Tom) Hanks portrays Phillips as a humane, but genius-like hero figure, which is a bit over-the-top, considering the controversy surrounding Phillips’ rewrite of events." The SeaHawk is the official college newspaper of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
The screenplay for the movie is based on Phillips' book, "A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea." However, the story didn't happen quite the way Phillips wrote it, according to the New York Post.
"Phillips wasn’t the big leader like he is in the movie," said one crew member, who spoke to the New York Post anonymously. "No one wants to sail with him."
The Post reports that the 11 crew members serving under Phillips have sued the owner of the ship for almost $50 million, alleging “willful, wanton and conscious disregard for their safety.”
“The crew had begged Captain Phillips not to go so close to the Somali coast,” said attorney Deborah Waters, who brought the claim, as quoted in the Post. “He told them he wouldn’t let pirates scare him or force him to sail away from the coast.”
"It will be difficult for historians to pick through what actually happened until that is resolved," wrote Alex von Tunzelmann at The Guardian, referring to the pending lawsuit against Maersk Line and the Waterman Steamship Corp. "For now, all that can be said is that what you see on screen isn't the only version of the story."
According to the New York Post, members of the crew who cooperated with the movie were paid $5,000 for their life rights and signed nondisclosure agreements regarding the events of the hijacking.