But after messing up the first take, Albert gathered herself, calmly went through the examination, and Hanks took her lead. They only did four takes but he pretty much nailed it in the second one, letting the scene wash over him
According to cinematographer Barry Ackroyd, who relied on his own documentary instincts in just letting the camera roll in the tiny room, the juxtaposition of Phillips' tragedy and Albert's professionalism meet in a way that you usually don't encounter in commercial movies.
Hanks let it all out. But he had spoken to Phillips prior to the shoot about the post-traumatic stress he experienced for weeks, breaking down in the shower or waking up in great distress. He couldn't stop crying and a Navy SEAL told him not to fight it and let it flow out of his system. That's what Hanks accomplished.
Greengrass, who noticed a transformation in Hanks' performance after the first take, wasn't even present in the room during the second take because it was so cramped. "Actors are like the guys who go into the desert with a stick looking for the underground water that's going to save the community. The great actors -- and Tom is one of them -- are the truth diviners. Then you've got to have the courage to play that scene with absolute conviction and absolute control...because when you're dealing with such intense emotions; it's about the definition and the detail of it all. It's a spiritual moment."
By the end of the scene, you forget that you're watching Tom Hanks the movie star. He's become Captain Phillips. "Most of the time there's a language that helps you get there, but what was surprising about this is that we didn't know it was gonna happen," Hanks observes. "This just came out of nowhere but the entire movie was always being carried on your shoulders so it was all right. Moviemaking's a bitch sometimes -- it beats the shit out of you."