Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Craig Gillespie and James Whitaker sit down

A chat with the director and producer of The Finest Hours

The Finest Hours, rescue on the high seas
The Finest Hours, rescue on the high seas
Movie

Finest Hours **

thumbnail

A straight-up <em>Boys’ Own</em> adventure yarn, set sincerely and squarely in early ’50s New England but gussied up with plenty of 21st-century StormWave CGI. A monster winter storm causes not one but two oil tankers to split in half off the coast, and so many people are busy attending to one of them that the fate of the other is left in the hands of just four brave (but also dutiful) souls on a glorified Coast Guard motorboat. To complicate matters, the captain (<a href="http://www.sandiegoreader.com/movies/archives/?q=chris+pine">Chris Pine</a>, hunched and hesitant for a change) has a botched rescue on his conscience, and oh, he just got engaged. Meanwhile, a grimy engineer (<a href="http://www.sandiegoreader.com/movies/archives/?q=casey+affleck">Casey Affleck</a>, who seems to have been cut according to some olde-timey pattern) has to convince the remaining crew that he can keep half a ship afloat with pure American know-how and gumption. Plus maybe a little luck. With Holliday Grainger. Craig Gillespie directs.

Find showtimes

The Finest Hours’ director Craig Gillespie and one of its producers, James Whitaker, were in town recently for the Coronado Island Film Festival and were kind enough to sit down for a chat about their old-fashioned tale of historic and heroic rescue.

Matthew Lickona: What was the elevator pitch to Disney for the film?

James Whitaker: It’s an incredible true story about four underdog guys who get called up for a suicide mission where they have a chance to save — through blind faith — 33 people stuck on the back half of an oil tanker. That’s pretty good, but the second part is that it’s all true. If you’re in my position, you’re lucky to be able to read a story and say, “It already rolls out like a movie story.” But it’s amazing when you can say that, and it’s also all true. Disney was very quick to say, “We want to get into this.” They truly believe that it represents the ideals of a Disney movie, even as it pushes the boundaries of a Disney movie in some respects. I don’t know that they’ve done a true story with this level of intensity. After that, getting Craig was the real turning point for getting it made.

ML: Craig, what attracted you to the project?

Craig Gillespie: I had just finished Million Dollar Arm, which was a great experience, and the script turned up in an email with no setup at all. Just the logline, “The true story of a sea rescue in the 1950s.” Scott Silver had written the draft that I read — he’d done The Fighter — and there was just this restraint to it, even as the characters were so clearly defined. So much was left unsaid, with people not expressing themselves emotionally. So many times in these films, everything is spelled out. Here, I could feel the tone on the page. Also, the way he created the world he was writing about was so visual. I was hooked. I called my agent the next morning and said, “I’ve got to do it.”

Video:

The Finest Hours

ML: And what about getting Chris Pine?

JW: He was already attached.

CG: Scott and I sat with Chris and really worked on his character. It goes back to that great generation, people doing the right thing, not for accolades or self-promotion, just doing the right thing for the community. Bernie [Pine’s character] had this strong moral compass; he was very honest, but he doesn’t really believe in himself. It’s a common theme in these heroic films. I went back to On the Waterfront, and Chris said, “Please don’t talk to an actor about On the Waterfront,” and I said, “Fine.” But just as a character, it was stuff to mine from.

ML: He had a pretty tough line to pull off when he talked about how the coast guard asks you to go out there, but they don’t say you have to come back.

JW: That was the motto. Bernie said that.

CG: Chris even said that it was going to be tough when we started working on it. To his credit, he really hit it.

ML: I was struck by the scene where the stranded crew is gathered in a circle to pray. It’s tough to put prayer onscreen, in part because you can’t see anything happening.

CG: We started from a place of trying to be honest. They would have had a moment for the men who were lost when the ship broke up. But I also loved the dichotomy: in the midst of all this chaos, this is what they choose to do. And then all hell breaks loose again.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

More on Orange County vs. Del Mar fair money

What Ed Bedford thinks of Governor Newsom
Next Article

Three poems for August by Dorothy Parker

With an acidic wit and keen eye for flawed humanity
The Finest Hours, rescue on the high seas
The Finest Hours, rescue on the high seas
Movie

Finest Hours **

thumbnail

A straight-up <em>Boys’ Own</em> adventure yarn, set sincerely and squarely in early ’50s New England but gussied up with plenty of 21st-century StormWave CGI. A monster winter storm causes not one but two oil tankers to split in half off the coast, and so many people are busy attending to one of them that the fate of the other is left in the hands of just four brave (but also dutiful) souls on a glorified Coast Guard motorboat. To complicate matters, the captain (<a href="http://www.sandiegoreader.com/movies/archives/?q=chris+pine">Chris Pine</a>, hunched and hesitant for a change) has a botched rescue on his conscience, and oh, he just got engaged. Meanwhile, a grimy engineer (<a href="http://www.sandiegoreader.com/movies/archives/?q=casey+affleck">Casey Affleck</a>, who seems to have been cut according to some olde-timey pattern) has to convince the remaining crew that he can keep half a ship afloat with pure American know-how and gumption. Plus maybe a little luck. With Holliday Grainger. Craig Gillespie directs.

Find showtimes

The Finest Hours’ director Craig Gillespie and one of its producers, James Whitaker, were in town recently for the Coronado Island Film Festival and were kind enough to sit down for a chat about their old-fashioned tale of historic and heroic rescue.

Matthew Lickona: What was the elevator pitch to Disney for the film?

James Whitaker: It’s an incredible true story about four underdog guys who get called up for a suicide mission where they have a chance to save — through blind faith — 33 people stuck on the back half of an oil tanker. That’s pretty good, but the second part is that it’s all true. If you’re in my position, you’re lucky to be able to read a story and say, “It already rolls out like a movie story.” But it’s amazing when you can say that, and it’s also all true. Disney was very quick to say, “We want to get into this.” They truly believe that it represents the ideals of a Disney movie, even as it pushes the boundaries of a Disney movie in some respects. I don’t know that they’ve done a true story with this level of intensity. After that, getting Craig was the real turning point for getting it made.

ML: Craig, what attracted you to the project?

Craig Gillespie: I had just finished Million Dollar Arm, which was a great experience, and the script turned up in an email with no setup at all. Just the logline, “The true story of a sea rescue in the 1950s.” Scott Silver had written the draft that I read — he’d done The Fighter — and there was just this restraint to it, even as the characters were so clearly defined. So much was left unsaid, with people not expressing themselves emotionally. So many times in these films, everything is spelled out. Here, I could feel the tone on the page. Also, the way he created the world he was writing about was so visual. I was hooked. I called my agent the next morning and said, “I’ve got to do it.”

Video:

The Finest Hours

ML: And what about getting Chris Pine?

JW: He was already attached.

CG: Scott and I sat with Chris and really worked on his character. It goes back to that great generation, people doing the right thing, not for accolades or self-promotion, just doing the right thing for the community. Bernie [Pine’s character] had this strong moral compass; he was very honest, but he doesn’t really believe in himself. It’s a common theme in these heroic films. I went back to On the Waterfront, and Chris said, “Please don’t talk to an actor about On the Waterfront,” and I said, “Fine.” But just as a character, it was stuff to mine from.

ML: He had a pretty tough line to pull off when he talked about how the coast guard asks you to go out there, but they don’t say you have to come back.

JW: That was the motto. Bernie said that.

CG: Chris even said that it was going to be tough when we started working on it. To his credit, he really hit it.

ML: I was struck by the scene where the stranded crew is gathered in a circle to pray. It’s tough to put prayer onscreen, in part because you can’t see anything happening.

CG: We started from a place of trying to be honest. They would have had a moment for the men who were lost when the ship broke up. But I also loved the dichotomy: in the midst of all this chaos, this is what they choose to do. And then all hell breaks loose again.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

As COVID-19 lockdown lifted, mayoral fundraising delivered better results

Bry outdoes Gloria
Next Article

More on Orange County vs. Del Mar fair money

What Ed Bedford thinks of Governor Newsom
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close