Let's make a list of straightforward, warm-hearted, lovable American men who we want to be our adoptive fathers. Tom Hanks is totally at the top of it, right? Our modern-day answer to Jimmy Stewart, Hanks has spent decades embodying pretty much everything good about American identity, from fearless World War II soldiers to history-changing Alabamans to a kid who just wants to make better toys. And while Hanks has created his share of American icons already-- Apollo 13 hero Jim Lovell, Woody, fictional Da Vinci Code sleuth Robert Langdon-- he's got two huge ones on deck for later this year. His role as the heroic Maersk Alabama Captain Phillips ought to be stirring when that film arrives October 11, but the real challenge arrives December 25, when Hanks is given the challenge of turning into Walt Disney.

How will he pull it off? We're getting our first hint in the image above, which debuted at Time Magazine of all places, from Saving Mr. Banks, the film that goes behind-the-scenes of Disneys 1964 adaptation of Mary Poppins. Standing next to Hanks is Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers, the British Mary Poppins author who was just as difficult and sour as she looks in that photo. They're walking down Main Street of Disneyland, and Travers looks like a schoolmarm scolding a bunch of second-graders! This is clearly not a woman who was in tune with Disney's version of The Happiest Place on Earth. In fact, Thompson tells Time that "She's the most difficult person I've ever played," and digs into the ways that Travers, while stern and determined, was also totally confusing compared to other characters Thompson has played over the years:

“She was a woman of quite eye-watering complexity and contradiction. Often I play people who are controlled by some very clear guiding moral principles. Like Margaret Schlegel [in Howards End], guided by the early principles of feminism and equal rights, and Elinor Dashwood [in Sense and Sensibility], guided by the principles of decency and honor. There are very clear moral prisms these women pour life through, and I understand that very well. And [Travers] was not like that at all. She was far more chaotic and confused and morally various.”

(Side note: Maybe playing crazy Professor Trelawney in the Harry Potter movies helped Thompson gear up for this?)

This image from Saving Mr. Banks technically isn't our first look at Hanks in costume-- there were some sneaked set photos from the Disneyland shoot last fall, which included a photo of Hanks that was meant to directly mimic a famous portrait of Disney that hung in Disneyland. But now, of course, the next step is to actually see Hanks in action, walking and talking as Disney did. Walt Disney himself died in 1966, but his face and voice remained incredibly familiar to kids who watched The Wonderful World of Disney or other relics from our parents' own childhoods. Check out this clip from Disney's final filmed appearance, in October of 1966 (it starts around the 3-minute mark), and let us know if you think Hanks can capture Disney beyond the mustache and slicked-back 60s hair. Hanks is already an American icon himself, so does that give him an edge in playing another one?

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