“In the Heart of the Sea” Film

Shooting "In the Heart of the Sea" in a tank at Leavesden Film Studios. Photo: Ron Howard via Twitter (@RealRonHoward)

Shooting “In the Heart of the Sea” in a tank at Leavesden Film Studios. Photo: Ron Howard via Twitter (@RealRonHoward)

A feature film adaptation of Nathaniel Philbrick’s National Award-winning book In the Heart of the Sea is underway in England. Actor Chris Hemsworth will portray Owen Chase, the First Mate of the whaleship Essex that was struck and sunk by a sperm whale in 1820. Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard is directing the production.

Philbrick met with Howard and screenwriter Peter Morgan aboard the world’s sole surviving wooden whaleship, the 1841 Charles W. Morgan, at Mystic Seaport earlier this year. The visitors toured the ship and went into the vessel’s hull with Shipyard Director Quentin Snediker.

According to his fall 2013 newsletter, Philbrick says, “Ron seems like a great guy. Very down-to-earth and very smart. And he seems genuinely excited about the story of the Essex. I’m looking forward to visiting the set in London in November.”

Published in 2001, In the Heart of the Sea details the tragic events of the 19th-century whaleship Essex. The ship left Nantucket in 1819 with 20 crew members aboard and was rammed and sunk by a whale in the middle of the South Pacific. The crew drifted for more than 90 days in three tiny whaleboats, succumbing to weather, hunger, disease, and cannibalism. Eight men survived and were rescued.