On one level, the new historical dramedy "Saving Mr. Banks" chronicles the efforts of studio head Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) to persuade the cantankerous British author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to allow her "Mary Poppins" children's books to be made into a movie.
On another level, it's also something of an ode to the old Hollywood studio system, with a small army of Disney employees all toiling together on the back lot. At a recent installment of the Envelope Screening Series, some of the "Saving Mr. Banks" cast members talked about the old-fashioned collaborative approach.
"You know where that [way of working] exists, is television," said Bradley Whitford, who plays Don DaGradi, a co-writer of the "Mary Poppins" screenplay.
After a humorously awkward lull, B.J. Novak chimed in to back Whitford up. Novak plays Robert B. Sherman, who along with brother Richard (played by Jason Schwartzman) wrote the film's songs. In preparing for the role, Novak listened to tapes of Travers and the Sherman brothers bickering.
"I've been in writers' rooms for a number of years, and [the tapes sound] a lot like a late night in a writers' room," said Novak, a veteran of NBC's "The Office." "People really really cannot see eye to eye, and they're fighting for their distinct vision, and it's just a nightmare."
For more from the cast of "Saving Mr. Banks," including more riffing on the similarities and differences of working on the big and small screens, watch the full clip above.