Monday, August 05, 2013

Reel People: Emma Thompson is P.L. Travers

The film is Saving Mr. Banks. The film is directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blindside), with a screenplay written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith.

P. L. Travers

Despite the name by which she is known, P.L. Travers was born Helen Lyndon Goff August 9, 1899. Her family called her Lyndon. She was born in Queensland, Australia to her English-born Irish father, Travers Robert Goffm and and her mother Margaret Agnes Goff.

As a banker, Travers Goff moved his wife and three daughters to Alora, Australia in 1905. He would die a few years later of influenza at the age of 43. Lyndon Goff and her mother and sisters moved to New South Wales were they lived until 1917.

Lyndon Goff adopted the stage name Pamela Lyndon Travers as she entered the world of acting traveling with a Shakespearean tour group. At the age of 24 she would move to England to pursue her acting career. During this time she also was writing, something she had begun as early as her teenage years.

For her writing, she adopted the pen name P.L. Travers. In 1933, in Sussox, she began writing Mary Poppins. The book would be published in 1934. P.L. Travers would continue to write, many of the stories were sequels to the popular Mary Poppins books including books such as Mary Poppins Comes Back, Mary Poppins Opens The Door, and Mary Poppins From A to Z. She would continue to write these books into the late 1980s. Many of which were published by the Peter Davies, son of J.M.Barrie, the author of Peter Pan.

At the age of 40 P.L. Travers had never married or had children of her own. She adopted an Irish boy named Camillus Hone. Travers refused to adopt his Camillus' twin brother Anthony based on the advice she had received from her astrologer.

During WWII, P.L. Travers moved to New York working for the British Ministry of Information. Roy Disney had contacted her during this time regarding selling the Mary Poppins story to Disney. This began a series of years where Travers would tell no to Roy and Walt Disney, as well as other film studios as well.

Travers finally accepted a $100,000 advance with a deal to receive five per cent of the film's profits and the chance to approve the script personally. But she disliked many aspects of the script, such as casting Julie Andrews who she found too attractive, Mary Poppins being too nice, the songs, and the animated film sequence. As a result of her distaste in the adaptation she refused to allow any future adaptations of her books.

In her 90s, Travers eventually agreed to allow there be a stage adaptation of her book and movie, on the condition that only British be involved with the adaptation. Specifically, no Americans. This excluded the Sherman Brothers who wrote the original songs for the film producing additional music for the stage adaptation.

P.L. Travers had an epileptic seizure in her old age. She died in London on April 23, 1996 at the age of 96.

Saving Mr. Banks
Saving Mr. Banks focuses on P.L. Travers negotiations with Walt Disney in 1961 regarding the making of the film Mary Poppins as well as a portrayal of Travers life in Queensland.

In addition to Emma Thompson playing P.L. Travers, Tom Hanks plays the part of Walt Disney

Paul Giamatti plays Ralph (Traver's chauffeur), Jason Schwartzman & B.J Novak play composer brothers Richard and Robert B. Sherman, Colin Farrel plays Taver's father, with Ruth Wilson playing the part of her mother. Rachel Griffith's plays Aunt Ellie, Margaret's s sister. Other cast includes Kathy Bates, Bradley Whitford, Victoria Summer.

Emma Thompson's last Oscar nomination was in 1996 (Sense and Sensibility). Will she receive another nomination, perhaps even a Oscar win for her portrayal of this Real (Reel) Person?

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