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Tom Hanks on his weakness for Doctor Who and British quiz shows
By SP_COP on November 30, 2013 | From
Tom Hanks on his weakness for Doctor Who and British quiz shows Tom Hanks strides into the room, hand outstretched. “You look like a journalist!” he exclaims – not the greatest compliment, but one delivered with a grin.

At 57, he is discreetly tanned, suavely suited, a bolt of energy. I met him once before, back in 2000 when he was promoting the movie Cast Away. Then, jetlagged and sporting a small moustache, he looked middle-aged and weary. Now, despite recently being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, he is the model of spruce, slimline movie stardom.

The small talk turns to Doctor Who – of which he has somehow acquired a name as a fan. “Well, I sort of know who Doctor Who is,” he says. “We got our first colour TV in 1968, and in California that meant all these extra channels nobody watched, filled with trippy Japanese cartoons – and Doctor Who! And we always watched because the English video just looked so weird, and you had the guy with the big red hair and the bow tie.”

Jon Pertwee? “Yeah, I think so. And everyone talked in English accents and there were these big salt and pepper shaker robots and we’d look at each other and say ‘Can you make any sense out of this?’ But it was... intriguing. And that’s the root of my affection.”

This is typical Hanks conversation, his answers brisk, animated nuggets. And about now you realise that for all his fame, the roles in the likes of Forrest Gump and Saving Private Ryan, and his status as the closest thing modern Hollywood has to James Stewart, it’s been a while since Hanks was so visible.

Earlier this autumn came his most high-profile part in years, the eponymous character in piracy drama Captain Phillips. Now he’s here to discuss another role, as the fabled character of Walt Disney. The film is Saving Mr Banks, a glimpse into the making of Mary Poppins, in which Hanks’s Disney does battle with the ferocious PL Travers (played by Emma Thompson), the literary creator of the original super nanny.

The film itself was made by the modern Disney – Hanks admits that the studio bought the script in part to stop anyone else doing it. And the request that Hanks play the part of Walt came from the very top of Disney’s corporate tree. “Listen, I knew why they wanted me,” he says. “I get it. I’m a recognisable commodity. I don’t strike fear into many people’s hearts.”

His clout allows him a certain candour. Put it to him that Disney have a name in showbusiness for control freakery and he agrees: “Oh sure, they’re savvy about their bajillion-dollar brand.”...
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