Vt.’s Captain Phillips says he never empathized

WILLISTON, Vt. (AP) — The ship captain being played by Tom Hanks in a Hollywood movie said on Tuesday before a benefit screening near his home that he never felt empathy for the Somali pirates who hijacked his vessel and took him captive four years ago.

“That never entered my mind,” Richard Phillips said in an interview. “We were always adversaries. I thought it was important to make sure we both knew we were adversaries in that. I thought that was important for me and my survival. There was no Stockholm syndrome.”

“Captain Phillips” was screened in Williston ahead of its national release in theaters on Oct. 11. The Paul Greengrass docudrama was adapted from the captain’s memoir about the April 2009 hijacking.

Hanks met several times with Phillips at his home in Underhill, in northwestern Vermont, to help prepare for the role. “Captain Phillips,” which debuted at the New York Film Festival on Friday, is expected to be a major contender in Hollywood’s awards season.

Phillips spent five days as a hostage of pirates on a lifeboat, where he was beaten, tied up and threatened before he was rescued by U.S. Navy SEALs.

The ordeal started when the pirates chased down and boarded the Maersk Alabama. The crew hid below deck in what Phillips, who remained above, called “a giant life-and-death game of hide-and-seek.” The ship had been warned about piracy before the attack.

Phillips was sent out in a lifeboat with the pirates, who told him they thought they might get a $2 million ransom if they could get him to land. Phillips said that the day before he was rescued his mental condition had deteriorated to the point that he didn’t care if he died; he just wanted the ordeal to be over.

And the following day it was, when Navy sharpshooters on the fantail of the USS Bainbridge shot three pirates without harming Phillips.

Phillips, who didn’t know what was going on, said he then heard a male American voice asking, “Are you OK?”

The Vermont sneak preview was a benefit for a fund created in honor of a 2012 Champlain College graduate, Sarah Elizabeth Ramsey, who died in June after being struck by a car in New York City. Ramsey had dated Phillips’ nephew.

The fund was established by Ramsey’s friends and family for third- and fourth-year marketing students.

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