Nate Heller (‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ composer) on honoring Fred Rogers’ ‘magical world of music’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Composer Nate Heller admits he and his director (and sister) Marielle Heller felt “a tremendous amount of responsibility” with “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” their biographical drama about beloved children’s TV show host Fred Rogers. The two wanted to “honor Fred’s legacy,” especially when it came to the music. Watch our exclusive video interview with Heller above.

SEE Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue Interview: ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ screenwriters

The Tristar release casts Oscar-winner Tom Hanks (“Philadelphia,” “Forrest Gump”) as the star of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” in the story of his friendship with journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), a fictionalized version of real-life writer Tom Junod, whose 1998 profile of Rogers is the basis of the film. Rogers “wrote almost all of the music for the show,” Heller explains. “Between him and his band leader, Johnny Costa, they created this magical world of music.” So his first priority was to “look really closely at what they did” and “try and get as close to exact on that as we can.”

Heller knew it would be a “juggling act” between “recreating some of his music faithfully” and having the score “play off of that, and maybe take us somewhere else. Because of the way the movie was made, we had to tackle the ‘Mister Rogers’ music first so everybody could have the tracks to sing along with when they were shooting. That was really an in-depth process,” after which “we were able to pick and choose” the elements of that music “to take into our score.”

SEE ‘Becoming Fred Rogers’: How Tom Hanks transformed into Mr. Rogers for ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ [WATCH]

He also “played with that ‘Mister Rogers’ jazz combo feel and tried to keep some of the whimsy, while making it bigger” since they were working with a full-scale orchestra. “We also took little melodies that you would remember from the show and weaved them in and out of the score as well.”

Nate Heller has worked with Marielle on all three of her directorial efforts: their mutual feature film debut “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” (2015), its followup “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (2018), and now “Beautiful Day.”

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