“This movie has actually made me think a lot about myself as a man and a father,” Hanks admitted.
Tom Hanks chalks up his decision to play Mr. Rogers in "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" as serendipitous.
During an interview on Thursday’s "CBS This Morning," the 63-year-old actor said he initially turned down the role, but he happened to bump into the movie’s director — Marielle Heller — at his grandkid’s birthday party the same week a New York Times article about women filmmakers came out, which had prompted Hanks to resolve to work with more female directors.
"I chatted with her there, and I had heard about her film ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl,’ — and I immediately took a look at it and said, ‘This lady’s going places,’" the two-time Oscar winner explained.
"When she attached herself to this, ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ — and after one read and a quick phone call with her, I said, ‘This is only just a matter of when we can do it,’" Hanks said.
One of the first things Hanks and Heller collaborated on was the look of the iconic children’s television host for the film.
"Well, okay, so let’s start with the most obvious aspect: the look. Are we going to do teeth? I don’t have the same nose. Or what are we going to — She said, ‘You’ll have a wig and we’ll do something with your eyebrows. So the rest is about you embodying the pulse, the heartbeat, the sensibility, the motivations of why Fred Rogers commanded a room in the way that he did,’" Hanks detailed.
In another interview for The Associated Press, Hanks said the chance to play Rogers — known for his affability and kind nature — made him reevaluate his life.
"I almost feel silly talking about it," said Hanks. "This movie has actually made me think a lot about myself as a man and a father. When I saw Mari, I said, ‘Hey, thanks for putting me in this movie, because you kind of changed my life, boss.’"
Rogers hosted the children’s show "Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood" from 1968 to 2001.
He was also the subject of the critically acclaimed documentary "Won’t You Be My Neighbor?" which debuted in 2018.
Rogers died from stomach cancer in 2003.
"A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood" is slated to hit theaters on Nov. 22.
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