GALESBURG — Kate Hudson is portraying a Knoxville native in the major motion picture “Deepwater Horizon,” which opened in theaters Thursday.
The film focuses on the story of Knoxville native Felicia (Manikas) Williams’s husband, Mike Williams, who survived the April 20, 2010, explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.
While news coverage focused on the ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and who to blame, the movie focuses on Mike Williams, played by Mark Wahlberg, and the 11 co-workers he lost in the explosion. It is based on a New York Times article about the explosion.
Felicia Williams just returned from the movie’s premiere in London and has been to premieres in Toronto and New Orleans. She was excited to have Hudson portray her and visited the set a few times.
“I’m pretty sure anybody wants Kate Hudson to play them. She tries her hardest to get everything right,” Felicia Williams said.
While she said being part of the movie has been fun in the moment, she wants the focus to be on the 11 workers who died.
“It is fun, and it’s nice, but the whole reason we did this to begin with and agreed to do anything (was) to give a voice to the 11 men who died,” she said.
Felicia Williams moved to Knoxville in second grade before moving away after college. She’s lived in Texas, where her husband is from, since 2000.
Soon after the oil rig exploded in 2010, she received a call in the middle of the night that there had been an explosion.
“I didn’t know there had been an explosion,” she said. “I got a call in the middle of the night that just said there had been an accident, that said Mike has been in an accident.”
Then at 4 a.m., she got a call from the ambulance driver and her husband.
“At that point, I knew he would be fine,” Felicia Williams said. “He made her (the ambulance driver) give him her phone so he could talk to me, which made me feel better.”
While Mike Williams survived, he had several injuries, some of which he still is recovering from. He had a couple broken ribs, lacerations on his face and hands, severely damaged wrists and severe post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
“He has mostly recovered from everything, with the exception of the PTSD and some lower back injuries,” Felicia Williams said. “Sometimes that takes years to happen, and the severe PTSD he will have forever. However, he copes with it better than the first two years.”
Mike Williams became good friends with Wahlberg and was a consultant on the film, Felicia Williams said, “to make sure that the most important stories were told as accurately as possible.”