When Lapstone residents Bob and Ann Aitken attend the premiere of Saving Mr Banks at Glenbrook Cinema on January 5 they can proudly boast they know one of its stars.
The couple’s 11-year-old granddaughter Annie Rose Buckley has a leading role in the Oscar-tipped movie which also stars Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson.
Annie and her family have just returned from a ‘fairytale-like’ experience at the Los Angeles premiere of the major motion picture.
The 2013 captain of Our Lady of the Way Primary School in Emu Plains, Annie was plucked from obscurity the previous year to play a starring role in the film.
Saving Mr Banks is the story of Pamela Travers — author of the children’s literary classic Mary Poppins — and her six weeks of negotiation with Walt Disney for the movie rights of the famous book.
The film cleverly uses flashbacks to Pamela Travers’ early life growing up in country Queensland, and highlights a very close bond with her father Travis Goff, played by Colin Farrell.
Annie plays the role of Travers as an 11-year-old schoolgirl in support of Thompson’s masterful performance as the senior Travers.
The film was the star performer at the recent London film festival — consistently winning five and four star reviews from the critics — and is due to open across Australia on January 9.
The Disney organisation flew Annie and her family — mother and father Corrina and Dean Buckley and twin brother Max — to Los Angeles for the premiere at Disney Studios last week.
Annie walked the media ‘gauntlet’ down the red carpet with her screen father Colin Farrell, and enjoyed the screening with other movie greats like Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews — stars of the original Disney Mary Poppins movie.
She and her family ‘had a ball’ at the traditional Hollywood ‘after party’ — and enjoyed further Disney hospitality at Disneyland before returning to Australia on the weekend.
The Leonay family had seven weeks at the Burbank Disney Studious, Los Angeles, and on location on a nearby ranch whilst making the film in the latter stages of 2012.
Annie won the coveted role of Ginty Travers after auditions involving some 300 aspiring actresses.
She had no acting experience apart from a series of television commercials by way of her association with the Bratz Agency in Sydney. Her brother Max has also featured in several television commercials, and enjoyed brief exposure as an extra in Saving Mr Banks.
Lower Blue Mountains Rotary Club will host the Lower Mountains’ own special premiere evening at Glenbrook Cinema on Sunday, January 5.
Annie Buckley will be the star attraction at a pre-screening function where she will be interviewed by her journalist grandfather and executive director of Rotary Down Under magazine, Bob Aitken.
Generously sponsored by Glenbrook Cinema proprietor Ron Curran, proceeds from the night will benefit Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign. Tickets for the event were sold out within 24 hours of going on sale this week.