“Saving Mr. Banks” tells the tale of how Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) courted original “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) for the film rights to her beloved children’s book, eventually turning it into the classic 1964 film. With the film set in the ultra-fashionable 1960s, actor B.J. Novak made sure that his time spent on the “Saving Mr. Banks” set was well-documented.
“I loved the [‘Saving Mr. Banks’] wardrobe,” Novak revealed to MTV News during our recent Fall Movie Preview interview. “[‘The Office’ wardrobe] was anything you could buy at Sears. On ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ even the socks are like 1962 vintage socks. The hair is all crusted over. I loved it. I’m not one to take selfies, but I broke my rule for this project because it was so fun and cool to play dress up like that. I turned into a 16-year-old girl.”
Novak plays Robert Sherman, one half of the legendary songwriting duo the Sherman brothers, who were responsible for penning the film’s memorable tunes. Novak is best known for his seven years as a writer and actor on the hit NBC sitcom, “The Office,” a show that featured a slightly different aesthetic from “Saving Mr. Banks.”
In addition to the upgraded wardrobe, Novak got to work alongside multiple Academy Award-winner Tom Hanks, whose living-legend status made him the perfect choice to play Walt Disney. “It feels like movie history in and of itself,” said Novak of Hanks’ casting as the imaginative innovator. “He’s perfect casting. Walt Disney was sort of an all-American optimist, a symbol of upbeat American optimism, and quality pop culture, and Tom Hanks is exactly those same things… And he looks so great in a mustache.”
In the film, Hanks clashes with Emma Thompson’s P.L. Travers, who Novak characterizes as a “stereotypically dour, brooding, negative British stereotype” who doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Disney, the “quintessentially American, upbeat, populist artist.”
In addition to Hanks and Thompson, Novak got to work closely with Jason Schwartzman, who plays the other half of the songwriting duo, Richard Sherman. Novak spotted a few similarities between each actor and their respective Sherman brother, complimenting the casting choice for each.
“Jason and I have minor versions of a lot of those differences [between the Sherman brothers,” explained Novak. “Robert had seen war. Robert had a real dark side, and an injury, and he was an older brother who felt much older. I have more of an obvious dark side, I think, than Jason does, simply because he is so light-hearted and so full of joy and wonder and that sort of playful side that Richard has so much. I often am mistaken for someone [who is] brooding, unfriendly, just because I’m sort of the one in the corner at a party kind of thinking about why I can’t think of anything to say to anyone… Whereas Jason, you meet Jason you immediately think, ‘Oh this is the best guy in the world.'”
Schwartzman’s music career also mirrored Richard’s talents well, allowing Novak — a music novice outside of a junior high production of “Oklahoma!” — to hang back a bit. “There was no pressure on me as a musician because in real life, Bob Sherman was a pretty awful singer… That’s why Richard sat at the piano and sang, and Bob just kind of tapped his hands along. So I could really only overachieve.”
From “Romeo and Juliet” to “Ender’s Game,” “Riddick” to “Oldboy,” the MTV Movies team is delving into the hottest upcoming flicks in our 2013 Fall Movie Preview. Check back daily for exclusive clips, photos and interviews with the films’ biggest stars.