From small town to big screen

When thousands of moviegoers flock to theaters to see one of next years highly anticipated movies, among them will be Castleton graduate Mariah Phillips who will be far too familiar with the story. 

Mariah and her family will be watching one of their most disastrous life events unfold on the big screen in the upcoming movie “Captain Phillips” based in the extraordinary true-life story of her father, Capt. Richard Phillips. 

The movie, set to be released in early 2013, is based on Phillips’s 2010 memoir ‘A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs and Dangerous Days at Sea’ about his 2009 run-in with Somali pirates.

His bravery was recognized around the world as he selflessly surrendered himself to the group of armed pirates in return for the freedom of his crew. 

Phillips’s book retells his horrific days as a prisoner at sea, describing his personal fear and perseverance along with the relentless efforts put forth by the U.S. Navy and government leaders to bring him safe. 

 “At first my parents didn’t want anything to do with the movie,” said Mariah, adding that after being bombarded by news crews during her father’s captivity the family had no desire to further be in the public eye. 

But they reconsidered and agreed to film, collaborating with Columbia Pictures, part of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Though Mariah and her family prefer to keep a low profile, they feel that their story is an important one to tell.

“I wonder if I can get in for free since it’s my movie,” joked Mariah.

The film, which features several well-known names, was written by Billy Ray and directed by Paul Greengrass, who has worked on films including “The Bourne Supremacy,” “Green Zone,” and “United 93.”

Tom Hanks will play Capt. Phillips, with Catherine Keener playing his wife Andrea Phillips, Gigi Raines as Mariah and John Magaro as her older brother, Dan.   

Hanks, who has played everyone from shrimp boat captain to a toy cowboy, was quick to take on the role of Capt. Phillips and was eager to be part of a movie with such historical significance.

He even made a trip to the Phillips residence in Underhill, Vt. to get to know the hometown hero and better prepare for his upcoming role.

            “He’s really a normal guy,” said Phillips who shared a few laughs with the mega star during his Vermont visit.

Phillips gave Hanks a taste of his home-life, allowing him to tour his house and meet his family. He even offered the actor a few suggestions on how to better get into his character.

“I told him he might have to put on a little weight in order to look like me,” chuckled Phillips.

He said he’s sure Hanks will embrace the role and hopes the movie will do his story justice.

“We don’t want people to see the story through Hollywood eyes,” said Phillips’s wife, Andrea, adding that she hopes to production team stays as true to the original events as possible.

But she said reliving the dreadful details of her husband’s encounter will not be easy for her, especially in front of a large audience.

Though the family has since moved on and put the experience behind them she said there are still certain details that she would rather forget.    

 “It’s an odd feeling knowing that part of your life is going to play out on the big screen,” she said explaining the experience as strange and surreal.  “I don’t think I’ll be buying it on Blu-Ray anytime soon.”

Though Phillips and his wife vow they only plan to see the movie once, the film about the local celebrities will be a must see for people who knew them in the Castleton community. 

Former Castleton student and Spartan Editor Megan Davis couldn’t believe her ears when she was first told about her friend’s recent claim to fame. 

“They are actually making a movie about someone I know,” said Davis.  “That’s totally totally awesome.”

Davis says she definitely plans on seeing the movie and is eager to see how it turns out.

The movie will most likely feature at least one scene portraying the Castleton College campus, which is where Mariah first received the news of her dad’s capture. 

“I think it’s cool as hell that one of my students has such an awesome family story and is now going to be played by someone on the big screen,” said Communications professor Dave Blow who worked closely with Mariah during her time as a layout designer with the Spartan.  “So cool!”

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