Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks talk 'Sully,' heroism, Trump, and 'five-dollar Friday'

In Clint Eastwood’s newest film as a director, “Sully,” Tom Hanks plays Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the US Airways pilot who made an emergency landing in the Hudson River in January of 2009 after a flock of geese crippled the engines in his jet. Written by Todd Komarnicki and co-starring Aaron Eckhart as Sullenberger’s co-pilot and Laura Linney as his wife, “Sully” focuses on the captain’s split-second decision-making in the air.

Even as Sullenberger was treated as a hero in the media, few knew that the decisions he made in a window of less than fours minutes after losing his engines would come under intense scrutiny — from both his airline and national safety regulators.

It would plague the pilot for months. 

In a late-August interview, Eastwood and Hanks talked about the heroism of Sullenberger’s story, the thing that annoys them most about other directors and how a Democrat and a sometime Republican find common ground during one of the most contentious U.S. elections to date.

Hanks: You could also do it with me and Channing Tatum.

That would be another twist.

Hanks: Who could say no to that? That guy’s gorgeous.

Which of Clint’s roles could you imagine a woman in?

Hanks: Dirty Harriet.

Eastwood: I’d say, go ahead, shoot your shot. More power to ya if you can come up with a different angle on the character.

This election, a lot of Americans are finding it hard to talk to friends and family who are on the other side of the aisle from them. Clint, you’ve spoken out on behalf of Republicans in the past. Tom, you’ve backed Democrats. How do you guys handle it?

Eastwood: I’m not on either side of the aisle. I think most Americans are going, “What the ... ? Is this all we can do?”

Hanks: I’m so glad it’s going on for another 60 days. Let’s send in the ballots right now. I don’t think anybody’s mind’s gonna be changed. “Oh, she explained that. Oh, he took that back. Oh, well, that changed my whole reasoning for it.”

Eastwood: When there were 17 people on the stage [in the early GOP debates], I thought, well, there are three or four people up there I could see voting for. They seem pretty good. I had a few ….  And then I thought, what the hell happened?

Hanks: The average movie set is the least political arena on Earth. Nobody bothers talking about politics because, one, we all love the job so much. You don’t talk about current events. You talk about old show business stories and whether or not there’s gonna be French onion dip at the craft services table that day.

Eastwood: I used to be extremely liberal and went through the ’50s with the House Un-American Activities Committee and the Hollywood 10. As you get older, you change certain things. I found out that a lot of my liberal friends weren’t liberal because they weren’t liberal about approaching anybody else’s ideas, or at least standing for it. They started getting really animalistic about, “I can’t even associate with this guy. He’s stupid. He’s an idiot.”

You mean liberal in the sense of being tolerant of other people’s ideas?

Eastwood: Yeah, that’s the ultimate liberal, isn’t it?

So when you say you’re not on either side of the aisle, does that mean you’re not voting for Trump?

Eastwood: I’m totally an enigma. I’m just astounded. I hate to pick up the paper. I think both individuals and both parties backing the individuals have a certain degree of insanity.

Hanks:  I’ve worked with people who are much further to the left than I am and much further to the right than I am. At the end of the day, who gives a ... . Good for you. This is America. Vote your conscience.

Eastwood: If the director’s a communist, whatever, he’s a communist. Feel the Bern. I’m with him. All I care is that he directs. For the actor, the same thing. All you really care is that he comes in and performs.

Hanks: And everybody buys in on five-dollar Friday.

What’s five-dollar Friday?

Hanks: You don’t know? You work for the L.A. Times! Five-dollar Friday is somebody walks around the set with a bucket. You write your name on a five-dollar bill and put it in. At the end of the day on Friday somebody reaches in and pulls out a winner. I have never worked on a movie in Los Angeles that did not have five-dollar Friday. I’ve only won once, on “Charlie Wilson’s War.” When you’re above the line, you have to split it with the [production assistants].

Eastwood: I’ve never been on a movie where they play five-dollar Friday. I must not be very observant.

Hanks: You’re showing your left here, Clint — “I put no importance in money.”

Eastwood: Hey, everybody puts importance in money on a film set.

rebecca.keegan@latimes.com

Follow me on Twitter for more movie news: @thatrebecca

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