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OTRC: Tom Hanks on 'Saving Mr. Banks,' 'Mary Poppins,' playing Walt Disney

Tom Hanks appears at the 'Saving Mr. Banks' screening in Los Angeles, California (November 2013). (OTRC.com)

Tom Hanks takes on the iconic Walt Disney in the upcoming film "Saving Mr. Banks."

Hanks portrays Walt Disney in the film centered around the making of the Disney classic, 1964's "Mary Poppins," which stars Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. The movie focuses on the relationship between Disney and "Mary Poppins" author Pamela Travers, played by Emma Thompson, as the two attempt to bring the story to the big screen.

"Saving Mr. Banks" also stars Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, B.J. Novak, Bradley Whitford, Colin Farrell and Rachel Griffiths. The film hits select theaters on Friday, Dec. 13 and has a wider release on Dec. 20.

At the 2013 AFI Film Festival, Hanks talked to OTRC.com about preparing for his role as Walt Disney and what he first thought when he saw "Mary Poppins" as a child. Check out three highlights from the interview below.

1. Hanks describes Walt Disney as a "tough business man."

"He was a tough business man, you know. But he was a smart business man, and he knew when to give up and when to walk away and maybe lie a little bit in order to get his way. I think it's a testament to how personal all this stuff was to Walt Disney."

"He didn't do anything, I mean, he wanted to make money without a doubt, but he didn't want to do anything that had been done before, he never wanted to do a sequel, not never wanted to have to go back and repeat himself, and the technology that was going to go along with this magnificent story was just so absolutely fantastic, he could not fathom anyone like Pamela Travers getting in the way. And when she did, well you know, there's only so much boom he could lower. Everything else for that was just trying to make it work."

2. Hanks had a blast researching for the role.

"It's a lot of work, quite frankly. It's just a lot of grunt homework. Jessica Drake, who I worked with in order to find voices of other characters, and I did some traveling, went to San Francisco and had access to the family museum. I looked at a lot of video and a lot of tape and I dug up a lot of anecdotes, no small of which came from people like Dick Sherman, who was on set quite a lot."

"But because I'm being educated at the same time while I'm doing the research, it was actually a blast. It's a different type of thing than trying to figure out a character that is only in your own head. There's a lot of documentation on Walt Disney and I had to figure out a way to make that guy look and sound like me and I had to figure out a way to look and sound like him. I can't believe they pay me to do this."

3. Hanks says he may have been bored upon first watching "Mary Poppins" as a child.

"I did not see it when it first came out. You know, maybe I saw it on its third month or something like that. And I was eight years old, probably was kind of bored. But we went to the Golden Gate Theater in San Francisco, which was the big movie palace and the theater itself was so grand and amazing, it must have been the first time I was there."

"I thought 'Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah,' 'Penguins, yeah, yeah, yeah' and 'Yeah, nanny? What's a nanny?' But then when the chimney sweep started dancing and 'Step In Time' up on the roof -- killer, man. I went home and did that same kind of jump and push off the couch and spin around, we did that in the apartment as soon as it was done. Trashed the whole place."

Reporting by Tony Cabrera, correspondent for the nationally syndicated entertainment show "On The Red Carpet" (check for local TV listings). The series is produced by KABC Television near Los Angeles.

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