I did not grow up watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, perhaps because I was almost 10 when it premiered. But I, along with many others, have recently been introduced to the incredible kindness of Fred Rogers from the recent documentary about him, to the wonderful stories about how he taught children to handle their feelings. Two of my favorite stories are first, when he washed the black mailman’s feet on national television, in a ground breaking episode helping to educate America that we are all important and deserving of kindness, and secod, when he had Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch of the West) on his show putting on her witch costume piece by piece to show young folks that it was just a costume, nothing to fear!
From 1968 to 2001, Fred Rogers imparted words of kindness and wisdom to millions of children on PBS’ long-running program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. In a fast-evolving world where young children grappled with a growing array of difficult issues and often may have felt misunderstood, Mister Rogers took the time to listen, understand and connect to them, earning his status as cherished source of comfort for millions of Americans.
Tom Hanks portrayed Mr. Rogers perfectly. He was a joy to watch. More importantly, the messages conveyed in this story, were extremely poignant and moving as we watch Fred Rogers help to change the life of the journalist sent to cover the story of his impact as an American hero.
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 kindness, love and forgiveness from America’s most beloved neighbor.
Please see my celebrity interview posts here, with a ton more information on the movie’s stars, and Mrs. Rogers herself!
I had tears in my eyes throughout this beautiful movie. Matthew Rhys was wonderful as he portrayed the fictional Lloyd Vogel, based on real life journalist Tom Junod.
When investigative New York journalist Lloyd (Matthew Rhys) is assigned a profile on Mister Rogers, he approaches the children’s icon with cynicism, not believing that anyone can really be that good of a person. But he is immediately thrown off guard by Fred, disarmed by his honesty, and the way he seems to somehow look into his soul. Suddenly Lloyd’s gaze turns inward. A new parent, with a troubled childhood, Lloyd is forced to reconcile with his jadedness and pain. Famously, Fred Rogers had an uncanny ability to turn interviews around on his interviewer, and that cat and mouse game is the catalyst for the movie. Bit by bit, as Lloyd’s cynicism is chipped away, we as an audience find ourselves looking inward as well, letting our guard down and reconnecting to a part of ourselves long buried.
The movie is about Mister Rogers relationship with the journalist, and the journalist’s journey of self-discovery. It is more about Mister Rogers affect on Matthew Rhys’s character then about Mister Rogers life. And the strength of Mister Rogers simple yet powerful message always comes through:
Inspired by award-winning journalist Tom Junod’s 1998 Esquire profile on Fred Rogers (“Can You Say…Hero?”), and the real-life friendship that developed between the two men, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood gently reminds us of Mister Rogers’ dedication to empathy, kindness and decency, qualities that may be even more pertinent today than they were five decades ago. This is a must see movie, helping to remind all of us to remain kind and thoughtful of others.