It has been said that every movie is made three times: in the writing, in the shooting and in the editing. At the Writers Guild of America Awards last Sunday, "Captain Phillips" scribe Billy Ray paid tribute to the latter stages upon winning the prize for adapted screenplay. (The film is based on Richard Phillips and Stephan Talty's book "A Captain's Duty.")
Accepting the honor, Ray kissed his new statuette and said: "There are a lot of wonderful writers in this room tonight. And on this night my wish for each of you is that once, just once, you can know what it feels like to have the kind of luck that I had on this movie. To have your work realized by a director as brilliant as Paul Greengrass and an actor as courageous as Tom Hanks and an editor as talented as Chris Rouse, whose cuts I promise you made my script seem a lot more spare and unsentimental than it actually was."
He added: "Not every writer gets that kind of luck, but every writer deserves it, at least once. So tonight this is yours as much as mine."
After thanking his wife and children, Ray had one more person to address. "I also owe quite a debt to Capt. Richard Phillips, who survived something that I know would have killed me," he said. "It's really Capt. Phillips who wrote this story; I just wrote it down."
In claiming the award, Ray beat out Tracy Letts for "August: Osage County"; Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke for "Before Midnight"; Peter Berg for "Lone Survivor"; and Terence Winter for "The Wolf of Wall Street."
Ray will contend with Linklater, Delpy, Hawke and Winter again at the Academy Awards on March 2, as well as Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope of "Philomena" and John Ridley of "12 Years a Slave."
For more from Ray and the WGA Awards, watch the video above and come back for more highlights from the ceremony.