Earlier in the year the internet was abuzz about a fake movie poster created by French graphic artist Pascal Witaszek. It featured actor (and former Mouseketeer) Ryan Gosling with dark hair and a mustache reclining in a train car. He held a pencil poised above a drawing pad. Outside the window a cloud formed the shape of a Mickey Mouse head with ears.
The poster was for a Walt Disney biopic entitled “Walt,” starring Ryan Gosling and directed by Ron Howard. It was entirely fake, but plausible enough that it really got people thinking. What would a Walt Disney biopic be like? Would Ryan Gosling be a good actor to take up the mantle of the famous animator/movie mogul/technology innovator/theme park creator?
Now just a few months later the idea of casting the role of Walt Disney is back in the news, and this time for real. The Denver Post reports that Tom Hanks is slated to play Walt Disney in a forthcoming picture. He is to star alongside Emma Thompson, who will take on the role of P.L. Travers.
Wait, what? Who’s P.L. Travers? I know a bit about Walt’s early history and she’s not anyone of whom I’ve ever heard. I’m outing myself as less of a diehard Disney fan than I might sometimes let on, because further research led me to discover that P.L. Travers is the Australian woman who wrote the book “Mary Poppins.”
The proposed film starring Hanks and Thompson will chronicle the story of how “Mary Poppins” was brought to the big screen. Is it just me, or does this all seem a little underwhelming? Hollywood’s making a movie about Walt Disney and it’s not about him animating or even creating the world’s first theme park (or at least the type of theme park we associate with the name), but about the making of “Mary Poppins”?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a classic film, but it still seems like possibly one of the less interesting stories one could make about Walt’s life. What about his involvement with NASA or the U.S. State Department? Maybe there will be elements of that in the background.
Of course if this is the movie being made then it means the story’s got to be great, especially if it’s attracted talent like Hanks and Thompson. I adore Emma Thompson and will follow her most anywhere (though not to this summer’s forthcoming “Men in Black III,” I must admit). Details of the story are somewhat intriguing.
Apparently Disney tried for fourteen years to get Travers to let him make a “Mary Poppins” movie. He personally traveled to her home in England at least once to beg her. Although she finally relented, when she saw the film she was so upset by its animated sequences she refused to ever work with him again.
I can picture it now: an affable Tom Hanks trying to charm a cynical Emma Thompson. It sounds funny, though despite America’s beloved Tom Hanks I feel like I’m definitely going to fall in the Thompson camp on this one: I love her, and I can really relate to the authorial fear of seeing your beloved vision changed on screen, and then that changed version being adopted by the world as standard.
The best part about this movie is that it doesn’t negate the possibility of a proper Walt Disney biopic, one focusing on his early years of founding the company. Let’s get on that, Hollywood.