Is Non-Stop a True Story? Is Bill Marks Based on a Real US Air Marshall?

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, ‘Non-Stop’ is an action thriller film with terrific performances by Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore in the lead roles. The movie tells the story of William “Bill” Marks, a former NYPD officer turned US Air Marshal. On a flight from New York City to London, Marks must deal with mysterious hijackers threatening to kill innocent passengers if their demands are unmet. Given the desperate situation Marks finds himself in, viewers might wonder if the 2014 film is based on a true story and if Bill Marks is based on a real person.

The Inspiration Behind Non-Stop

No, ‘Non-Stop’ is not based on a true story. The film is based on an original story written by John W. Richardson and Chris Roach, who wrote the screenplay alongside Ryan Engle. The movie tells a fictional story about a US Air Marshal’s attempts to stop an airplane hijacking in which he is inadvertently framed. However, there are no real-life reports about such an incident taking place. Instead, the movie’s concept is devised to craft a tense, atmospheric thriller with high-stakes action and drama.

In an interview with Den of Geek, director Jaume Collet-Serra stated that he was attracted to the project because of its concept. “For me, it was the concept. Also, the challenge of shooting an entire movie in one set. I think it’s very interesting for a director that enjoys thrillers and mysteries like I do to have the challenge to do that, and so that was the main reason for me, the concept, the air marshal world,” he said. “I thought that the fragility of the environment, a plane going from New York to London just in the middle of the ocean if something goes wrong, it could become a very scary place,” Collet-Serra said.

In the same interview, Collet-Serra revealed that the project originally came to him as a spec script, and he made several changes to it. The director stated he intentionally steered away from the tropes of a typical terrorist hijacking movie and added an element of mystery to the narrative. Aside from analyzing the state of the US security systems, the movie explores how technology can be used against a certain person. The movie aims to portray its events with a touch of realism, and the fight sequences and major revelations indicate the same. The movie also examines the role of a US Air Marshal on a flight through its protagonist.

Bill Marks Is Not Based on a Real US Air Marshall

William “Bill” Marks is the movie’s protagonist, and actor Liam Neeson (‘The Commuter‘) essays the role. He is a former NYPD police officer turned US Air Marshal who is on a direct transatlantic flight from New York City to London. Since the movie is not based on a true story, it is safe to say that Bill Marks is not based on a real person. However, the character was shaped by considering a US Air Marshal’s real-life role and duties.

Director Jaume Collet-Serra stated that while working on the movie’s script, he and producer Joel Silver had shaped the movie’s world and characters. However, they wanted to ensure they captured the authenticity of a US Air Marshal’s job. Hence, Jaume Collet-Serra worked with real-life officials who train Air Marshals, some of whom had previously served in the role. As a result, the makers added authenticity to the main character’s actions, especially his daring plan to save the plane. Furthermore, the movie also gives Bill Marks a compelling and heartbreaking backstory that allows viewers to empathize with his situation.

Although he is introduced as an alcoholic, viewers quickly learn about the tragedies in his past, making the character appear in a more human and relatable light. Ultimately, ‘Non-Stop’ is not based on a true story. It tells a fictional story of a US Air Marshal’s attempts to stop a plane hijacking from claiming countless innocent lives. However, by capturing the main character’s personal struggles and professional obligations, the film remains grounded in reality despite its explosive action and emotionally charged drama.

Read More: Where Was Non-Stop (2014) Filmed?