Friday 6 December 2019
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What She Said! with Christine Bentley & Kate Wheeler

‘It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ Cast Remember Mr. Rogers

Here are some interesting quotes about legendary TV children’s show host Fred Rogers, from the stars and crew of the movie It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson and Chris Cooper, director Marielle Heller and Tom Junod, a cynical journalist turned believer who wrote about Rogers in his Esquire article Can You Say…Hero?  They were in town during TIFF. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood opens November 22nd

Tom Hanks, plays Fred Rogers – It took twenty-two takes, the opening gambit of Fred dressing. Fred had some knots done in his shoes so he was quicker. He had preset shoes that sat on the stool and one was tied loosely. This movie was a living hell!

Fred talks to a kid in a wheelchair and says Jeff, do you have “feel sad” days? Yes, but not today! We are allowed to start off better. Loving is the harder choice.

Preparing for this some people thought he was a saint, some thought he was a fraud. You can’t be both. That’s the way movie life works. We never made fun of Fred, even the physical aspects, deconstructing the myth of it but at the same time, there is this mystery. What is his motivation, commerce? No. He was the least commercial performer on television.

Here’s a story, I was shooting in Warner’s backlot at night. I entered the shot from the street, with a submachine gun, I butchered twelve people and shot Paul Newman dead.  And I thought God, I hope I get to play Mr. Rogers someday. It was all leading up to play the man who created the neighbourhood of make-believe.

His mother knit his sweaters!

Tom Hanks in ‘It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’

Tom Junod, Esquire writer – Fred was in his robe when I met him the first time.  He had a profound message and beautiful radical ideas. He gave me an interview in the bathtub. He said have you ever missed a deadline? Did it make you feel pretty blue?? He was an ordained Presbyterian minister and saw how children were treated on television. He saw what he was doing as a calling. He made 1200 episodes. He never mentioned God, he ministered through the show and action.

Fred prayed for me every day. His early theological emails were recovered. He was doing this with a lot of people. What was special with Fred is that I saw something in him but he saw something in me, he had that ability and determination to see what was good and worthwhile bringing out in people and relentlessly achieving that.

Matthew Rhys plays journalist Tom Junod – As an actor, it’s a value you relish when you read. The journey is so great, but not without difficulties and complexities, and I was drawn in. Tom is incredible, I was worried, but I had a way!

When I talked to people in America about the film, they’d say what’s it about, I’d say Fred Rogers. They’d go Awwww. And they’d ask who plays him and I’d say, Tom Hanks. And they’d say Awwww. Both men elicited the same sound!

Marielle Heller, director – Fred’s message was just be who you are, that feelings are valid.  It’s deep and profound. We need him now more than ever. No one from Fred’s camp likes it when people call him a saint.  It’s something we can’t attain, he wasn’t, he was a person, he worked very hard every day to be who he wanted to be. This was a human being. As complex as the rest of us.

Susan Kelechi Watson plays Andrea Vogel – As a child, I didn’t want to be treated like a child. But I was a child. Mr. Rogers, watching TV, he’d look through the screen. Sometimes he was talking to me to share. Someone took the time to talk with us.

Chris Cooper, plays Gerry, Junod’s abusive father – Gerry could have used a couple of hundred episodes!

by @annebrodie

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