BY EMMA JEAN HILLESHIEM
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood has been one of the most popular movies since its recent release in the U.S. on November 22, 2019, taking 3rd place at the box office in its opening weekend. You’d think turning Tom Hanks, one of the kindest men in Hollywood, into Mr. Rogers, the man who devoted his life to spreading a message of kindness, would come easy but this wasn’t the case. Becoming Mr. Rogers wasn’t natural at first to Tom Hanks.
It was somewhat nerve-wracking for director Marielle Heller to expect the audience to be alright with someone else playing Mr. Rogers, but she knew Tom could pull it off and she was right.
“What he’s doing is really difficult, and subtle. He’s shifting his emotional body into a stiller person.” – Director, Marielle Heller
Marielle took this incredible opportunity to tell the story of a man who meant so much to so many people very seriously. She wanted to honor Fred and the incredible life he lived and treated this project with great responsibility.
Tom had to learn how to slow himself down into who Fred was at his core, a very calm and still person. They decided authenticity was what they needed to capture in Tom’s eyes and everything that is vulnerable about Tom playing Mr. Rogers. The rest could be fixed with just eyebrows and a wig. Watch this video to see how the film’s brilliant creative team helped Tom become Fred in this precious featurette that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for this beautiful movie.