Marielle Heller and Tom Hanks on “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”
“Can You Say … Hero?” is an article written by Esquire writer Tom Junod in 1998. When he wrote that profile of beloved children’s television host Mr Rogers, he never thought the story would be adapted to be a feature film two decades later. As director Marielle Heller’s third feature film, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is about Junod’s encounters with Mister Fred Rogers. Matthew Rhys’s Lloyd Vogel, a fictionalized version of Tom Junod, reluctantly goes to Pittsburgh to interview Rogers, played by Tom Hanks, for a special issue devoted to heroes. After Rogers dodges his questions, Vogel realizes that the real story here is about the way Mr. Rogers changes the life of a cynical writer as he welcomes a new baby to his life. Director Marielle Heller and Tom Hanks told HFPA journalist Scott Orlin that the challenge of this film was how to capture the essence of Mister Rogers.