Tom Hanks Discusses ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ and Playing Walt Disney

We can’t wait for Disney’s upcoming film Saving Mr. Banks, which takes a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Mary Poppins. This week, actor Tom Hanks opened up about his work on the film, in which he plays the legendary Walt Disney.

Now almost a month into production, Saving Mr. Banks will tell the tale of the long negotiations that took place between Walt Disney and Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers, with a particular emphasis on Travers’ trip to visit Disney during Poppins‘ pre-production period in 1961. About the film’s plot, Hanks explains:

“It’s like another version of Mary Poppins by way of the relationships between P.L. Travers, who wrote it, and everybody that made the movie cause it was a very contentious experience”

Hanks also discussed his preparation for playing Walt Disney, which has involved two research trips so far to the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. Referring to the museum as “like a trip to Disneyland itself,” Hanks commented that the museum was “the third happiest place on the planet, behind Disneyland and Disneyworld.”

In taking on the role of such a cultural icon and legendary man, Hanks also revealed that he will be taking a straightforward approach in his depiction of Walt, and audiences can expect the Disney-produced film to, understandably, avoid mention of any controversies or conjecture surrounding Walt Disney and his life. The closest viewers will get to a controversy will be Hanks “chain smoking his way through the movie,” which accurately depicts Disney’s 3-packs-a-day smoking habit that led to his untimely demise from lung cancer in 1966. When asked if his depiction of Walt would take a “warts and all” approach, Hanks explained:

“[Walt Disney] wasn’t a warty guy. There was the labor issues that were in the forties and stuff like that. But by and large, no.”

Also starring in Saving Mr. Banks will be Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers, with actors Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford, Jason Schwartzmann, and B.J. Novak rounding out the cast. While no offical release date has been announced yet for the film, Saving Mr. Banks will debut in theaters in 2014.


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