A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is A Beautiful Movie!
Thank you SONY PICTURES for inviting me to A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood pre-screening and press-junket. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a biographical drama film directed by Marielle Heller and written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, inspired by the 1998 article "Can You Say... Hero?" by Tom Junod, that was published in Esquire magazine. The film stars Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson, and Chris Cooper. The story follows Lloyd Vogel (Rhys), a journalist for Esquire who is assigned to profile the beloved television icon Fred Rogers (Hanks). Get ready for flashbacks of your childhood and the movie is glorious!
To prepare for his role, Mr. Hanks visited the Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania for research in the Fred Rogers Archives and also watched the 2018 documentary film Won't You Be My Neighbor?
Did you know that Hanks recently shared he’s sixth cousins with Rogers, and they share the same great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Johannes Mefford.
Matthew Rhys as Lloyd Vogel plays a jaded journalist who is assigned to profile Mr. Rogers for Esquire magazine. Vogel is based on journalist Tom Junod, whose encounters Mr. Rogers. Heller described Vogel as the viewer's "entry point into Fred's teachings" and expressed hope that Vogel's character development would compel viewers to reflect upon themselves.
Susan Kelechi Watson as Andrea Vogel is Lloyd's wife and a fan of Mr. Rogers' show. Watson, herself is a fan of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood,Watson describes her character as a "career woman" who faces unique challenges of patience and adaptation as the mother of a newborn.
I had the chance to interview Marielle Heller and she is remarkable!
BelAirMommie: Why is this story important to you?
Marielle Heller: Like many parents, I'm raising a young person in this current world that often feels like a scary place with few role models. Fred Rogers' wisdom has felt relevant in my parenting journey and learning more about his life's mission was very appealing.
BelAirMommie: How is it working with Tom Hanks?
Marielle Heller: Tom is as nice as everyone says. The bigger surprise was what a collaborative and humble person he is. He values the director/actor relationship and savors being directed. He is always happy to do another take and make a scene even more right.
BelAirMommie: Did you meet any of Fred Rogers’ family members to give you guidance?
Marielle Heller: Joanne, Fred's wife, has been an invaluable resource, as well as Bill Isler who worked with Fred for decades. We called on everyone who knew Fred to share what they could about him. We were so lucky to be welcomed into their world with open arms.
BelAirMommie: Where was the film shot and how long did it take to film?
Marielle Heller: We filmed in Pittsburgh over 33 days (with a few days filmed in NYC) and then did a miniature shoot (meaning where we filmed miniatures) for another week.
BelAirMommie: What would you like audience goers to take away from the movie?
Marielle Heller: I hope audiences view the movie as an opportunity to examine their own childhoods and to connect with the wisdom of Fred Rogers in the here and now. In many ways the movie is an episode of Mister Rogers for adults.
BelAirMommie: What’s your fondest memory from shooting A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood?
Marielle Heller: So many but one that stands out was the first day we filmed in WQED- the studio where the original Mister Rogers was filmed. We walked in and saw the set recreated so lovingly and Tom in his sweater. We all felt it was a day we would never forget.
The running theme when speaking to Heller, Watson and Vogel, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is about family, love, acceptance and forgiveness. Just as Mr. Rogers would have wanted. Be ready to cry, laugh and long for your childhood. A spectacular movie, not to be missed!
Thank you Sony for the amazing experience, it was extraordinary.
Tom Hanks portrays Mister Rogers in A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, a timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on a true story ...In Theaters: Nov 22!