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December 10, 2013 AT 8:04 AM
It's one thing to shoot at Disneyland. It's another to be Tom Hanks, the first actor to play Walt Disney, shooting at Disneyland. "Instead of riding the rides, (people) would stand around and watch us shoot," says Saving Mr. Banks director John Lee Hancock. Hanks plays the corporate titan in 1961, as the visionary tries valiantly to get uninterested British author P.L. Travers, played by Emma Thompson, to relinquish the rights to her beloved Mary Poppins so he can bring the story to the big screen. Does it take an icon to play an icon? In this case the similarities are striking: Their reputation for benevolence and innate cheer precede them, and both Disney and Hanks' talent have rendered an indelible impression on the entertainment landscape. Both also represent the American Dream, turning tough childhoods into a creative path of their own making.