John Lee Hancock's Saving Mr. Banks starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson starts production in Los Angeles.
Disney has announced that's its started production today on Saving Mr. Banks, the account of Walt Disney’s twenty-year pursuit of the film rights to P.L. Travers’ popular novel, Mary Poppins, and the testy partnership the upbeat filmmaker develops with the uptight author during the project’s pre-production in 1961.
Tom Hanks will play Disney (first time ever been depicted in a dramatic film) while Emma Thompson is set to play the prickly novelist. Before actually signing away the book’s rights, Travers’ demands for contractual script and character control circumvent not only Disney’s vision for the film adaptation, but also those of the creative team of screenwriter Don DaGradi and sibling composers Richard and Robert Sherman, whose original score and song (Chim-Chim-Cher-ee) would go on to win Oscars®at the 1965 ceremonies (the film won five awards of its thirteen nominations).
When Travers travels from London to Hollywood in 1961 to finally discuss Disney’s desire to bring her beloved character to the motion picture screen (a quest he began in the 1940s as a promise to his two daughters), Disney meets a prim, uncompromising sexagenarian not only suspect of the impresario’s concept for the film, but a woman struggling with her own past. During her stay in California, Travers’ reflects back on her childhood in 1906 Australia, a trying time for her family which not only molded her aspirations to write, but one that also inspired the characters in her 1934 book.
None more so than the one person whom she loved and admired more than any other—her caring father, Travers Goff, a tormented banker who, before his untimely death that same year, instills the youngster with both affection and enlightenment (and would be the muse for the story’s patriarch, Mr. Banks, the sole character that the famous nanny comes to aide). While reluctant to grant Disney the film rights, Travers comes to realize that the acclaimed Hollywood storyteller has his own motives for wanting to make the film—which, like the author, hints at the relationship he shared with his own father in the early 20th Century Midwest.
Also in the cast of Saving Mr. Banks are Colin Farrell as Goff, Travers’ dad, Ruth Wilson as Margaret, his long-suffering wife, Rachel Griffiths as Margaret’s sister, Aunt Ellie (inspiration for the title character of Travers’ novel), newcomer Annie Buckley as young, blossoming writer, nicknamed “Ginty” in the flashback sequences, Bradley Whitford as screenwriter Don DaGradi, Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak as the songwriting Sherman Brothers (Richard and Robert, respectively), Paul Giamatti as Ralph, the kindly limousine driver who escorts Travers during her two-week stay in Hollywood, and Kathy Baker as Tommie, one of Disney’s trusted studio associates.
John Lee Hancock directs Saving Mr. Banks, based on a screenplay by Kelly Marcel, from a story by Sue Smithand Kelly Marcel. Ruby Films' Alison Owen produces alongside Ian Collie of Essential Media and Mr. Hancock's frequent collaborator Philip Steuer.