Tom Hanks is proving himself to be the king of the biopic this year with two very high-profile, acclaimed films in which he portrays a real-life person. First, with the tense drama Captain Phillips, and now in the heartwarming Saving Mr. Banks, which depicts the true story behind the creation of Disney's Mary Poppins.
In Saving Mr. Banks, Hanks plays the legendary cartoonist and movie mogul Walt Disney, while he struggles to convince author P.L. Travers to sell him the rights to her novel Mary Poppins.
In Captain Phillips, Hanks plays the titular Captain Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage by Somali pirates in 2009. While preparing for that role, Hanks was able to meet with the still-living Phillips to get to know the man and learn his mannerisms and vocal patterns.
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However, he didn't have that same luxury while playing the iconic Walt Disney, who passed away in 1966. Hanks had to use first-hand accounts from Disney's friends and co-workers to get to know the man, and use old footage and recordings of Disney to learn how to become him for the film.
"It was intimidating," Hanks admitted to ET during the red carpet premiere of the film at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank on Monday. "It was the kind of grunt work that goes into some of the jobs we have. There are an awful lot of exterior pieces that you have to put together, and then you have to summon up the interior resolve and requirements when the day comes."
One aspect of playing Disney that adds to that intimidation is how well known and revered the figure was in American culture and the world of film.
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"It's not something you take lightly," Hanks said. "He's a very well-documented and… very beloved guy. I look and sound nothing like him, so my work was cut out for me."
Check out the video for more from the cast and creators of Saving Mr. Banks, which opens in limited release on December 13, and then hits theaters around the country on December 20.