A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is out in theaters right now. The weight of playing Mister Rogers is not lost on Tom Hanks. He visited Jimmy Kimmel Live! this week to talk about the film and spoke about the responsibility that comes with donning that iconic sweater. Hanks told the host that the feeling of getting dressed for the shoots was like putting on Batman’s costume. A comment that made the crowd let out a big laugh, but the star was absolutely serious about that comparison. For his part, it makes a ton of sense because formative media is going to have that effect across the board because of how the shows and movies we consume color our perceptions as young viewers. Especially in a place like Pittsburgh, where the show was filmed. Fred Rogers was a cultural institution and that is nothing to take lightly.
“You put on that red sweater and blue shoes, you might as well be putting on Batman’s cape and cowl. You feel powerful. You do, because we shot this in Pittsburgh at WQED, the television station where they actually made it. To walk into that studio in a red sweater and blue shoes, people would be looking. The crew guys would be looking, and they would come over to look like, ‘Oh my God. It’s a sweater just like Fred wore!’ They were enamored with the power.”
“If you’re in Pittsburgh, it’s kind of like if you’re in Memphis and you’re making a movie about Elvis. In Pittsburgh, if you are making a movie about Andy Warhol, Roberto Clemente, or Franco Harris you have carte blanche in the city.
Sony's has an official synopsis for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood:
"Tom Hanks portrays Mister Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. After a jaded magazine writer (Emmy winner Matthew Rhys) is assigned a profile of Fred Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about empathy, kindness, and decency from America’s most beloved neighbor."
Marielle Heller directed A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood based on a script by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster. Hanks and Rhys star in the film. This Is Us standout Susan Kelechi Watson and Chris Cooper join them in the cast.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is in theaters right now.