Hanks on 'Banks': Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks talks about playing Walt Disney in 'Saving Mr. Banks'

BY GEORGE LANG glang@opubco.com Published: December 20, 2013
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“As far as seeing Disney himself, it was mostly him performing as Walt Disney, you know?” Hanks said. This meant watching the Mickey Mouse magnate as host of “The Wonderful World of Disney” or footage of him greeting people at Disneyland.

“But I found a substantial amount of interview footage that was him just talking, that was him not ‘presenting himself,' as well as a lot of anecdotal stuff,” Hanks said.

Fortunately for Hanks, “Saving Mr. Banks” takes place at a time when Disney was extremely visible. The original Disneyland, opened in 1955, became a kind of symbol of post-World War II optimism and American idealism, and apart from Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney was the theme park's chief ambassador. Until his death in 1966, Disney maintained a high public profile, and because of this, there are still people who could give Hanks insight into the man he was portraying — something that might not have been captured on film.

“You also have to take into account the Disney as he is in the film,” Hanks said.

“Disneyland has been running for five or six years. It's a huge cash cow, and he is an established artist/industrialist,” he said. “We were working with people who would come by and visit the set who knew Walt and would talk about him as if he were still around.”


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