It’s no easy feat to transform yourself into one of the most recognizable figures in TV history, but leave it to Tom Hanks to make it work. Hanks takes on the role of Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, delivering a wonderful performance that pays tribute to Rogers while never dipping into impersonation territory. In a new Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood featurette below, Hanks and director Marielle Heller discuss how Hanks turned himself into Mr. Rogers for the film.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Featurette
When it came time for Tom Hanks to become Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the actor didn’t have to slap on a ton of prosthetic make-up. As Marielle Heller tells it, the only thing Hanks needed was a pair of distinct eyebrows to match Rogers’, and a “very simple wig.”
“Those two things are going to turn him into Fred,” Heller adds. “We just wanted to capture the truth behind his eyes, and everything that feels real, and vulnerable.”
Hanks adds that he watched hours and hours of footage of Rogers, but says that “rather than go for a microscopic, mole for mole imitation of Fred Rogers, it was a cadence. A quietness. A slowness.” The actor really does nail down the soft-spoken, ASMR-inducing voice Rogers had, and that goes a long way towards convincing you you’re watching Mr. Rogers up on the screen and not Tom Hanks playing a part. The movie built around Hanks’ performance isn’t entirely successful in my humble opinion, but Hanks’ work makes it well worth seeing.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is “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 (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.”
Look for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood in theaters November 22, 2019.
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