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Nathaniel Philbrick's 'In the Heart of the Sea' is adapted for the screen by Ron Howard

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(Read caption) 'In the Heart of the Sea' is by Nathaniel Philbrick.

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A movie directed by Ron Howard and starring “Thor” actor Chris Hemsworth is being adapted from Nathaniel Philbrick’s nonfiction book “In the Heart of the Sea.”

“Heart” was published in 2000 and follows the whaleship Essex, which was attacked by a sperm whale in the South Pacific. The ship’s crew took to three small boats and stayed on the open ocean for more than 90 days. The real-life story inspired Herman Melville to pen “Moby-Dick.” “Heart” won the National Book Award in the nonfiction category and the New York Times Book Review wrote that “Heart” is “a book that gets in your bones… Philbrick has created an eerie thriller from a centuries old tale… Scrupulously researched and eloquently written… it would have earned Melville's admiration.”

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Melville is portrayed by “Skyfall” actor Ben Whishaw, while Hemsworth plays Essex first mate Owen Chase and Benjamin Walker of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” plays the ship’s captain, George Pollard. “How I Live Now” actor Tom Holland plays the ship’s cabin boy during the movie’s events, while Brendan Gleeson of “Edge of Tomorrow” plays the older version of the cabin boy Thomas Nickerson, who is telling the story to Melville years later. 

Hemsworth previously worked with Howard for the 2013 movie “Rush,” in which he played Formula One driver James Hunt. “Rush” was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Drama at the Golden Globes that year and actor Daniel Bruhl was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama for his work in the film as well as for a Screen Actors Guild award for Best Supporting Actor. 

“It has a lot of action in it, and that's vitally important," Howard said of the movie in an interview with USA Today. "But it's also dependent on rich characters and nuanced emotional performances, and those are all aspects of the movie we're also dealing with under great physical duress. Nobody backed away from the challenge. In front of the camera and behind the camera it was, pardon the pun, all hands on deck at all times.” 

As for creating a movie that takes place on the water, a famously difficult job, Howard said that working on water “is everything it's cracked up to be in terms of being an enemy of organized filmmaking everywhere.”

“Heart” is being released this March.