The USS Kidd in Baton Rouge gives the World War II thriller “Greyhound” invaluable accuracy.

Debuting Friday on Apple TV+, the Tom Hanks-starring "Greyhound" secured this definitive location for a film set on a destroyer escorting a convoy of Allied troop and supply ships across a sea of swarming German U-boats. The main attraction at the USS Kidd Veterans Memorial & Museum, the Kidd is the only Fletcher-class destroyer restored to its World War II configuration.

To see the trailer for 'Greyhound,' click here.

“It’s the perfect starting point for grounding the film in authenticity and reality,” said the movie’s director, Aaron Schneider, during a virtual press conference with Hanks.

The “Greyhound” production team also built reproductions of the Kidd’s bridge and deck at Celtic Studios. The filmmakers simulated a ship sailing the North Atlantic through use of a gimbal that allowed the sets to be inclined in any direction. Water cannons, hoses and repurposed film of the Atlantic Ocean also depict the ship’s hazardous five-day voyage in February 1942. The film’s only nonseagoing scene — featuring Hanks’ and Elisabeth Shue’s characters saying goodbye in a hotel lobby — was shot at the Louisiana State Capitol.

Hanks plays Capt. Ernest Krause, a veteran U.S. Navy officer leading his first command. The actor also wrote the movie’s screenplay. “Greyhound,” based on C.S. Forester’s novel, “The Good Shepherd,” has been a pet project for Hanks since the book’s action-packed cover caught his attention about eight years ago.

“It was Ernie Krause,” Hanks said of the cover. “Gray haired, undone, exhausted, uniform flapping in the wind, ships sinking and burning on the horizon and one of his crewmen is tapping out a signal. I thought, ‘That man is exhausted. That man has been through a degree of hell.’ ”

Hanks saw the potential for “The Good Shepherd” to be a movie by page 3.

“This entire story is told through the perspective of its protagonist,” he said. “Ernie Krause is not the captain that you would anticipate being in charge of the safety of all these ships.”

Hanks previously played memorable captains in “Saving Private Ryan,” “Sully,” “Apollo 13” and “Captain Phillips.” Seeing Krause as another good captain role for himself, he adapted “The Good Shepherd” to his own ends.

“As a selfish actor, I want to play great roles,” he said. “When I was doing the writing, I put in stuff that I wanted to see in the movie, because I’d never quite seen them before. And then it was translated and tested by Aaron Schneider and so many other people who were involved.”

“Tom is a natural conduit for empathy,” Schneider said of Hanks. “His performance is internal. When an actor starts from the inside out, it engages the audience.”

Though “Greyhound” is set in 1942, Hanks believes the story’s dilemmas and uncertainties speak to the coronavirus present.

“In stories of World War II,” he said, “despite them being period pieces, to me it’s always been about what would we do if we were in those same circumstances. Guess what? We are in many of those same circumstances right now.”

In March, Hanks, who turns 64 on Thursday, and his wife, Rita Wilson, 63, were in Australia when they became the first major Hollywood celebrities to test positive for COVID-19.

“We had 10 days of very uncomfortable symptoms,” he said. “If our temperatures had spiked, if our lungs had filled, if any number of things had gone wrong with us, we would have needed expert medical care. We didn’t. We were, I guess, model recoverees from COVID-19.”

As the virus rises again in the U.S., Hanks continues to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“There are really only three things we can do to get to tomorrow,” he said. “Wear a mask. Social distance. Wash our hands. Those things are so simple, so easy. And if anybody cannot find it in themselves to practice those three basic things, I just think shame on you. If we all do it, we’ll be that much closer to the better day and the end of all of this.”

Because many movie theaters are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, worldwide exhibition rights for “Greyhound” were sold to Apple TV+. Hanks cited the streaming service as a savior for the film, even though he laments that it won’t be seen on a big screen by moviegoers gathered together in theaters.

“We’re all heartbroken that this movie is not playing in cinemas,” the actor said. “It is disappointing, because this movie looks fantastic on a huge screen. But if it touches the audience the way we hope it does, it’s still going to be a 100 percent physiological experience."


Email Judy Bergeron at jbergeron@theadvocate.com.