Marielle Heller Re-Evaluates “Radical Human” Mister Rogers With A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood – Toronto

Director Marielle Heller is surprisingly calm. Having locked her highly-anticipated third feature A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood six weeks prior to TIFF, she is now waiting for the film—about the friendship between cynical journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) and the iconic master of nice, Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks)—to have its world premiere.

Loosely based on Tom Junods Esquire magazine article about the public television legend, Heller has spent the past few years rediscovering what made Rogers so special. “I remember being a kid and thinking of him as kind of schmaltzy,” she says. “But as I became a parent, I got reacquainted with Mr. Rogers as a grownup, and from the point of view of trying to raise a good, healthy child, Ive come to see who he really was, which was a radical human who used his time on Earth to try to make the world a kinder place.”

Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys in 'A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood'

Heller had the full cooperation of the Rogers family and shot on location in Pittsburgh, recreating the Mister Rogers Neighborhood set in its original studio. “There was a huge responsibility to do it right,” she says. “We all felt like we were in a very privileged position.”

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