Saving Mr. Banks Tells Story Behind Mary Poppins Adaptation

51 Flares 51 Flares ×
Saving Mr. Banks Tells Story Behind Mary Poppins Adaptation

Sav­ing Mr. Banks

Dis­ney began pro­duc­tion Wednes­day on “Sav­ing Mr. Banks,” the account of Walt Disney’s 20-year pur­suit of the film rights to P.L. Tra­vers’ pop­u­lar novel Mary Pop­pins, and the testy part­ner­ship that the upbeat film­maker devel­ops with the uptight author dur­ing the partly ani­mated film’s pre-production in 1961.

Two-time Acad­emy Award win­ner Tom Hanks (Philadel­phia, For­rest Gump) will essay the role of the leg­endary Dis­ney (the first time that the entre­pre­neur has ever been depicted in a dra­matic film) along­side fel­low dou­ble Oscar win­ner Emma Thomp­son (Howard’s End, Sense and Sen­si­bil­ity) in the role of 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 13 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 aid). 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 that he shared with his own father in the early 20th Cen­tury Midwest.

Colin Far­rell (Minor­ity Report, Total Recall) co-stars as Tra­vers’ dot­ing dad, Goff, along with British actress Ruth Wil­son (the forth­com­ing films The Lone Ranger and Anna Karen­ina) as his long-suffering wife Mar­garet; Oscar and Emmy nom­i­nee Rachel Grif­fiths (Six Feet Under, Hilary and Jackie, The Rookie) as Margaret’s sis­ter, Aunt Ellie (who inspired the title char­ac­ter of Tra­vers’ novel); and a screen new­comer: 11-year-old Aussie native Annie Buck­ley as the young, blos­som­ing writer, nick­named “Ginty” in the flash­back sequences.

The cast also includes Emmy win­ner Bradley Whit­ford (The West Wing, The Cabin in the Woods) as screen­writer Don DaGradi; Jason Schwartz­man (Rush­more, Moon­rise King­dom) and B.J. Novak (NBC’s The Office, Inglou­ri­ous Bas­terds) as the song­writ­ing Sher­man Broth­ers (Richard and Robert, respec­tively); Oscar nom­i­nee and Emmy win­ner Paul Gia­matti (Side­ways, Cin­derella Man, HBO’s John Adams) as Ralph, the kindly lim­ou­sine dri­ver who escorts Tra­vers dur­ing her two-week stay in Hol­ly­wood; and multi-Emmy win­ner Kathy Baker (Picket Fences, Edward Scis­sorhands) as Tom­mie, one of Disney’s trusted stu­dio associates.

Sav­ing Mr. Banks will be directed by John Lee Han­cock (The Blind Side, The Rookie) based on a screen­play by Kelly Mar­cel (cre­ator of FOX-TV’s Terra Nova), from a story by Sue Smith (Brides of Christ, Bas­tard Boys) and Kelly Mar­cel. The film is being pro­duced by Ali­son Owen of Ruby Films (the Oscar-nominated Eliz­a­beth, HBO’s Emmy-winning Tem­ple Grandin), Ian Col­lie of Essen­tial Media (the Aussie TV doc­u­men­tary The Shadow of Mary Pop­pins, DirecTV’s Rake) and long­time Han­cock col­lab­o­ra­tor Philip Steuer (The Rookie, The Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia tril­ogy). The film’s exec­u­tive pro­duc­ers are Ruby Films’ Paul Tri­jbits (Lay the Favorite, Jane Eyre), Hop­scotch Fea­tures’ Andrew Mason (The Matrix tril­ogy, Dark City) and Troy Lum (Mao’s Last Dancer, I, Franken­stein), and BBC Films’ Chris­tine Lan­gan (Oscar nom­i­nee for The Queen, We Need to Talk About Kevin).

Hancock’s film­mak­ing team includes a trio of artists with whom he worked on his 2009 Best Pic­ture Oscar nom­i­nee, The Blind Side: two-time Oscar nom­i­nated pro­duc­tion designer Michael Coren­blith (How The Grinch Stole Christ­mas, Apollo 13), Emmy-winning cos­tume designer Daniel Orlandi (HBO’s Game Change, Frost/Nixon) and film edi­tor Mark Livolsi, A.C.E. (Wed­ding Crash­ers, The Devil Wears Prada). Han­cock also reunites with Acad­emy Award-nominated cin­e­matog­ra­pher John Schwartz­man (Seabis­cuit, Pearl Har­bor), with whom he first worked on his inspir­ing 2002 sports drama The Rookie.

Sav­ing Mr. Banks will film entirely in the Los Ange­les area, with key loca­tions to include Dis­ney­land in Ana­heim and the Dis­ney Stu­dios in Bur­bank. Film­ing will con­clude around Thanks­giv­ing this year, with no spe­cific 2013 release date yet set.

Related Posts:

About Ethan Minovitz

A longtime contributor top BCDB, Ethan has become our resident research expert. Turned loose inside a database, there is nothing Ethan cannot find. Resident of the Great Northwest, Ethan is fiercely proud of his native Canada. Ethan is a professional researcher in his real life in Vancouver, BC. Ethan would love to hear from you- send a note here.

News, , , , , ,

Leave a Reply