Which films almost did Hanks and Thompson in?
05:00 AM, Dec 10, 2013
BEVERLY HILLS Mary Poppins stands as one of the most beloved films of all time, but it took Walt Disney 20 years to deliver on a promise to his children to make the feature. The thorn in his grand plan? British author P.L. Travers, who long refused to relinquish the rights to her infamous nanny.
Both Tom Hanks, who plays Disney in Saving Mr. Banks (in limited release Friday), and Emma Thompson, who takes on the dour Travers, cock a brow when asked if they’ve ever chased anything as ardently as Disney chased Poppins.
“Sense and Sensibility for the producing was 15 years, from door-to-door. Nanny McPhee, the first one, from the moment I took the book off the shelves to the moment we opened, nine years! Nine years through hell and high water,” says Thompson.
Hanks chimes in. “It took seven years to make Castaway from the first idea to eventually getting it done.”
It was Thompson’s sequel, Nanny McPhee Returns, that almost did the actress in. After promoting it exhaustively around the U.S. and receiving glowing reviews, “I was about to pack my bags and go home. And I was feeling very pleased with a job well done…I get a call the morning of the opening weekend — ” and the film had come in roughly $4 million short of expectations.
She shakes her head at Hollywood’s quick dismissal. “So I found myself that weekend sending sympathy parcels of chocolate and things to people saying I’m so sorry? And I went home, and that was the end of that.”
Hanks had a less than supercalifragilisticexpialidocious experience with Larry Crowne, which took him two years to write, and a year and a half to make. He did “back-breaking” press for the film before reporting for duty to the set of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
“And the day it opened the reviews were just merciless. They just dismissed the whole thing,” he says. “So I’m sitting in my dressing room… And I’m a pretty tough guy. I’ve been around. The only thing to do is be extremely pragmatic, say hey, we took a shot. I like it. What are you gonna do? And (director) Stephen Daldry pokes his head in with a cup of coffee and says, ‘Well, the New York Post didn’t hate your movie too much.’”
Thompson dissolves in peals of laughter. “I hope you threw something at him.”
“No. I laughed,” says Hanks. “Because it’s so surreal. You give yourself up to the void. You can’t change it.”