As the respective creators of Mickey Mouse and Mary Poppins, two of the most cheerful, beloved characters around, it’s odd to imagine studio head Walt Disney and author P.L. Travers quarreling. But that’s precisely what happened when Disney tried to persuade Travers to allow her children’s books to be made into a musical film.
Their creative dispute is dramatized in the new film “Saving Mr. Banks,” starring Tom Hanks as Disney and Emma Thompson as Travers. Speaking at the Envelope Screening Series, Hanks and Thompson discussed their characters’ fractious relationship.
Publicly, Travers didn’t care for Disney’s film. And, Thompson said, “Privately, she didn’t like it as well. She didn’t like it at all, ever.”
Thompson added, “I think she appreciated the fact that she had enough money [from selling the rights] to keep her house. You have to remember that this is a woman who didn’t have any protection: had no family, had no father, had no inheritance, had no husband, had to earn her own living and was running out of money. So that’s a very important part of the story.”
Hanks, meanwhile, described Disney as a man who was “extremely pragmatic and tight-fisted” and said he “couldn’t stand” Travers.
“I think there was a moment at the premiere,” Hanks said, “where [Travers] said, ‘Oh, we have so much work we have to do, so much work to do, starting tomorrow.’ And Walt Disney said, ‘Pam, that ship has sailed,’ and he walked away from her, and I don’t think they ever spoke again.”
For more from the cast and crew of “Saving Mr. Banks,” watch the full clip above, and check back for daily highlights.