In Saving Mr. Banks, Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), is incredibly reluctant to give Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) the film rights to her cherished children's book. Through a series of flashbacks, we delve into the loving yet tormented relationship the author had with her alcoholic dad, played by Colin Farrell.
We asked Farrell what it was like playing such an afflicted man. "From reading it to playing it, I found it sad," said the real-life father of two boys.
"We all know the effect parents have on their children. And how hard-wired we are at such a young age based on the level of safety and security that allows us to grow and flourish. When I read the script and you meet him, I thought 'Oh, how lovely,' and then it started getting worse and worse and worse."
What was the most troubling part of this complicated father/daughter relationship? According to the Irishman, "[P. L. Travers] blames herself for the rest of her life for his untimely death and his sickness. Children do that all the time. They blame themselves for the shortcomings of their parents' marriage or the dissolution of the parents' relationships."
The Seven Psychopaths star claims he was able to feel for his character, yet not take on his dark troubles. "It was sad. Yet, I didn't bring it home with me, it was strange. There was something about [having] such a gratitude about not being there."
So did Farrell feel a responsibility to accurately depict other despondent dads? "This character that I'm playing does represent so many fathers – and I'll just say fathers because he was a father – that just couldn't turn up. They wanted to, had hearts that were filled with love, but just couldn't put down the bottle."
Watch the video to find out how the thespian's Irish roots keep him grounded and how often he gets back to the Emerald Isle.
Saving Mr. Banks opens in limited release on Dec. 13.
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