Saving Mr. Banks, now out in theaters, is the story of how Mary Poppins came to Burbank, CA to become the film we all know and love today. Now, I’ve already seen this film (twice!) and I have to say, the movie is incredibly touching in ways you didn’t even think of. It’s funny and moving and you will cry. You may even ugly cry, but it won’t matter because everyone around you will be too.
Back in November, I had a chance to attend the press conference for Saving Mr. Banks. I was pretty giddy when I got the invite because, well… hello! Tom Hanks! I made it my goal to get a pic with him, which if you’ve attended a junket or two, is not always an easy feat. But, I was determined and made sure to be there extra early to claim my spot.
The press conference was held in the beautiful Beverly Hills Hilton, which was the very hotel P.L. Travers stayed in when she came to town to talk to Walt about developing her beloved book, Mary Poppins, into the film that we all know and love to this day. The whole event lasted no more than 30-40 minutes and it was a thrill getting to hear directly from the cast all about the making of Saving Mr. Banks. As far as that Tom Hanks photo? Ahem.
Click through the slideshow to read how the cast shared funny anecdotes (like Tom Hanks on being a grandfather) and pieces of how they not only developed their characters, but what Mary Poppins meant to them.
Saving Mr. Banks is now open in theaters nationwide.
Tom Hanks on being a grandfather 1 of 7
"I had taken them to Disneyland on the day that we shot in Disneyland. They came and an interesting thing happens as a grandparent that you see no reason whatsoever that your granddaughter shouldn't be delighted to take a ride on the Winnie the Pooh Adventure. It's Winnie the Pooh. It's fun. It's Pooh Bear. It's Kanga and Roo and Owl. It's Christopher Robin. It's gonna be a blast. She's gonna remember this the rest of her life, her ride on Winnie the Pooh's Great Adventure.
My granddaughter was terrified by the noise, the big spinning bears. She will now be haunted for the rest of her days by this first image of Winnie the Pooh in a loud, short, herky-jerky ride that her grandfather forced her to do on the day he played Walt Disney in Disneyland. That is just a sample of the fantastic job I do as a grandparent. Thank you!"
Emma Thompson on finding her character 2 of 7
"P.L. Travers was so fascinated with myth, and was a searcher all her life. So it was very breadcrumb-y, my search for her. She went everywhere, you can imagine ... she was like going into a maze. You know, and ... round some corners, you'd find this terrible monster. And round another corner you'd find a, a sort of beaten child. So she was the most extraordinary combination of things."
Jason Schwartzman on what Mary Poppins meant to him 3 of 7
"This movie meant a lot to me growing up. I saw it a lot of times and in fact I knew most all the songs from the movie. That's what I remembered the most, I think. It's funny just how much when you're little a movie and things can affect you and when I got the part in the movie I started looking through archives and photos. I got to see all these behind-the-scenes snapshots of the movie being made and it was only then that it occurred to me that it was shot in Burbank.
I experienced it as a young person thinking it was in England and it was only recently that I realized that it was all made up. That's how deep into my body it had gone and how much I believed that it was all real. In a way I wish I hadn't ever seen those photos. Do you know what I mean?"
B.J. Novak on Disney DNA 4 of 7
"We talked last night about this, because I thought I had seen Mary Poppins. I knew all the songs. I knew the characters. I had absorbed it without ever having seen it. I didn't realize that til we all went ... and watched it. I realized there were so many scenes and complicated dark shadings and directions that I had never associated with that film. It's a more complicated film than I thought it was, let alone the story of the film when you know the context of it. So it was something for me, and we talked about this, all these Disney films, they feel like they're in your DNA."
On working with his child co-star, Annie Rose Buckley 5 of 7
When asked how he established the closeness scene on screen, Colin jokingly said, "A stick. A stick. Um, alternated with sugar cubes. That I got from the horse trainer.
... no, she was just a dream, Annie, to be around. I think people say you shouldn't work with children or animals, but you must only work with children, because you work eight hours a day. She was a dream ... she didn't seem to be too fazed by any of it, and she was just a really, really sweet presence to be around."
Director John Lee Hancock on filming at Disneyland 6 of 7
"Being there on Main Street before the park opened and the sun is just coming up, and everybody's moving stuff around, and I remember a moment there where, you know, ... you're so worried and prepared for the day, and you've got that ahead of you, 'Are we gonna do it, we gonna get everything done?'
But then there was just that moment with the sun coming up, and I thought, 'Damn, this is cool. I got a great job.' And then I looked over, and there was Tom sitting there, and I go, "This is Walt Disney and ... it's all too great.' So, it was fantastic."
Writer Kelly Marcel on Disney Studios hand in the process 7 of 7
"This particular process was kind of beautiful from day one, really. Unlike what Tom was just saying, nobody said 'no.' Everybody said 'yes' all the way through ... including all of these amazing people sitting at this table, which sort of still blows my mind.
... Alison and I did think that Disney would probably give us a cease and desist order and not make the movie. But, in fact, they embraced us with open arms. And I don't think John Lee and I ever felt the hand of the studio on our shoulder. They really trusted us to go ahead and make it the way that we wanted to make it."
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