Friday, April 13, 2012

Tom Hanks is Set To Play Walt Disney

Tom Hanks has had great success for Walt Disney Studios, his vocal work helped the "Toy Story" franchise earn almost $2 billion around the globe, but will his magic touch extend to actually playing Disney himself?  That's the hope for the studio, which is eyeing Hanks to star as Disney in "Saving Mr. Banks," a true-life story that follows the mogul's attempts to bring "Mary Poppins" to the big screen.  Emma Thompson in is talks to play P.L. Travers, the Australian author behind "Poppins," who fought Disney at every turn over the course of 14 years while he attempted to option her novel.

The Blind Side's John Lee Hancock will take the director's chair on Saving Mr Banks, working from a screenplay by Kelly Marcel, which made last year's Black List of the best unproduced scripts in Hollywood.  It tells the story of Travers' deep discomfort over the film version of what was a highly personal book.  Mary Poppins, published in 1934, was inspired by hardships in the writer's own life, as well as her relationship with her father.  Travers was not impressed by the final 1964 film, being particularly disappointed with the animated sequences, and subsequently refused to sell any of her other stories to Disney.  There are eight novels in total about the magical English nanny who turns up at the Banks household in London to care for the children after being blown in on the east wind.

Disney's musical starred an Oscar-winning Julie Andrews in her Hollywood debut as Poppins and is best known for songs such as A Spoonful of Sugar and Chim Chim Cher-ee (which won the 1965 best song Academy Award), as well as Dick Van Dyke's questionable cockney accent in the role of jack-of-all-trades Bert.
Saving Mr Banks, which has landed fittingly at studio Disney, is the latest example of the film industry delving into its own past in order to produce new entertainment.  Last year's Oscar-nominated My Week With Marilyn centred on the troubled 1957 production of Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier comedy The Prince and the Showgirl, while Anthony Hopkins and Scarlett Johansson are to star in the upcoming Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho about the director's struggle to bypass the studios and fund the iconic low-budget, black-and-white 1960 horror film from his own pocket.

Little else is known about the project beyond the real-life outcome: "Poppins" became a classic for Disney and turned Julie Andrews into a star.  She won an Oscar for playing the titular role, while the film itself, directed by Robert Stevenson, won four others.  "Mary Poppins" was also up for Best Picture.  That was of little consequence to Travers, who was unhappy with the finished product, especially the animated sequences.

Hanks has been on the Walt Disney Studios shortlist to play its namesake since back in February when the project was first announced.

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