It’s about time that Hollywood produced a portrait that lauded a real-life influential person whose story is more uplifting than than tortured.
Watching the just-released trailer for ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” gave me flashbacks. Not because I grew up watching Fred Rogers on TV. But because, just like the “Esquire” writer played by Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”), I actually visited his set at Pittsburgh’s WQED in 1991 and watched a taping before interviewing the children’s show host for “USA Today.” He wasn’t feeling well that day but he soldiered on through his cold. What was frustrating, however, is that he kept asking me questions about my life instead of answering mine. It was against his nature to not put others before himself.
All I can say is that everything in the trailer looks exactly like what my experience was. And Tom Hanks captures the man who sat before me perfectly — kind, curious, calm, compassionate and dedicated to making people feel better about themselves and the world. I ended up doing a phoner with Rogers’ wife, Joanne, to get some real insight about this children’s show host and beloved icon.
The other thing I thought during the trailer? Isn’t it about freaking time that Hanks won a third Oscar? Will this be the role that does it? He hasn’t been nominated since 2001’s “Cast Away.” And the two trophies he did win came back to back — for 1993’s “Philadelphia” and 1994’s “Forrest Gump.” Come on, this guy whose first nod was for 1989’s “Big” and who also competed for Best Actor for 1999’s “Saving Private Ryan” is one of Hollywood’s most consistent leading men. Here’s hoping this one does the trick.
It helps that Marielle Heller is the director — she did a beautiful job on “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” with Melissa McCarthy playing biography writer and forger Lee Israel. Both McCarthy and co-star Richard E. Grant earned Academy Award nominations.
The movie that opens on Nov. 22 also features Susan Kelechi Watson (“This Is Us”) as the journalist’s wife and Chris Cooper as his father. In the meantime, just revel in that Hanks-ian smile in the trailer before your eyes start misting over like much of Twitter right now.
— Viviana (@scatterthestars) July 22, 2019