As with that film, Greengrass faced a dilemma with “Captain Phillips”: How to humanize the villains, the hijackers.
“You want the film to be layered and human, but obviously, I don’t think there’s any doubt in this film that these Somalis were bad people. On the contrary, I think the more you paint them as desperate young men with little to lose — I mean, you know, the most dangerous man in the world is the man with a gun and nothing to lose.
“But you’ve got to try to understand their psychology, what drives them. ... And I think that’s what makes the confrontation between Phillips and Muse so interesting. It goes to the heart of a divided world, and how do we respond to it.”
But as realistic and rigorous as “Captain Phillips” is, it’s still a movie, an “entertainment,” and Greengrass has no illusions there.
“It’s not journalism, it’s not history,” he notes. “But that’s not to say that a movie can’t tell truth. It can, and you have a responsibility to the known facts and you have a responsibility to the person whose story you are telling.”
Since he entered into the postproduction phase of “Captain Phillips,” Greengrass had been considering what his next project might be. And he had been circling around “Chicago Seven,” another real-life story — about the arrest and trial of Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, and their fellow protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
Aaron Sorkin, Oscar-winner for “The Social Network,” had written the script, and Greengrass was “this close.”
“But in the end, for a bunch of reasons, it wasn’t quite right for me,” he reports. “But I think somebody’s going to make a great film out of that.”
“I’m just going to see what comes. See if that romantic comedy comes my way.”
“That would be a change, now, wouldn’t it?”