Tom Hanks could not let the role of Geppetto pass him by. ET’s Denny Directo spoke to Hanks at the premiere of Disney’s live-action film, Pinocchio, Wednesday night, where he shared why he asked to play the part of the woodcarver and creator of Pinocchio.
“Oh, this is like being on the ’27 Yankees, you know, it goes back so far in the American cultural zeitgeist, and I know way too much about Pinocchio because I played Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks, so, I already did a prime study on it — I was ready to hit it,” Hanks revealed.
“As soon I as I heard that Bob was doing it — Bob Zemeckis, I called him up cold and I said, ‘Pinocchio,’ literally one word. I said, ‘Pinocchio,’ and he said, ‘Yeah,’ and I said, ‘Geppetto’ and he said, ‘Really?’ and that was that,” he continued. “To be in anything, to have a part in ‘When You Wish Upon a Star?’ Come on.”
The technology used to bring the film to life piqued Hanks’ interest as well, with the 66-year-old actor telling ET that with all the history ingrained in this film, there was just no way he could let the opportunity to take part in Pinocchio slide by.
“Not only just all the updated versions that you’re gonna get from this, but also to have Bob’s fingers on the technology, that of today, is equal to the multi-plane camera that Walt Disney — and this was the first movie that used the multi-plane camera back in 1941, and then they lost half the world to a little box office — half the world for a little thing called World War II. So, there’s all sorts of history that’s just jammed in it, and I wasn’t about to let that slide by.”
Starring Hanks, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Cynthia Erivo, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Keegan-Michael Key, Lorraine Bracco and Luke Evans, the film takes a deeper look at Pinocchio’s story, and brings it to a new generation.
“The idea of taking on a treasured classic, as Disney’s Pinocchio, it’s an incredibly rich opportunity to revisit and go deeper into this great masterpiece,” Hanks said ahead of the film’s release last month.
While Hanks plays the man responsible for creating Pinocchio, the toy-turned-boy’s is voiced by Ainsworth, with Gordon-Levitt lending his vocal talents to Jiminy Cricket, the insect who acts as the toy’s conscience. Erivo meanwhile appears as the Blue Fairy, who first brings Geppetto’s creation to life.
Additionally, Evans, starring in his second live-action Disney adaptation after Beauty and the Beast, plays Coachman, the villainous owner of Pleasure Island, while Key voices a cunning fox named John Worthington Foulfellow. Bracco joins the cast as the voice of a new character, Sofia the Seagull.
Rounding out the cast are Kyanne Lamaya as Fabiana (and her marionette Sabina), Giuseppe Battiston as the greedy puppeteer Señor Stromboli and Lewin Lloyd as a naughty boy named Lampwick.
See the latest re-imagining of Pinocchio when it debuts Thursday, Sept. 8 on Disney+ as part of the platform’s celebration of Disney+ Day.