plays Fred Rogers in the highly anticipated movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” but the Academy Award-winning actor said he initially turned down the part. Hanks spoke with “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King about how director Marielle Heller changed his mind.
Heller is known for the movies “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” and the Oscar-nominated “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” Hanks met her at a birthday party for his grandchildren the same week that a New York Times article about women filmmakers came out.
“We were chitchatting,” Hanks said. “She says, ‘I’m a director.’ I said, ‘Oh, I was just read this interesting article in The New York Times about female directors. Have you seen it?’ And she looked at me and she said, ‘I’m in it.’ I said —”
“Oops,” King said.
“Please, let me remove my shoe from my mouth,” Hanks said. “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.'”
“You said, ‘I want to work with her,'” King said.
“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.
“She said she did not want you to be an imitation of Fred Rogers?” King asked.
“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 said.
More of King’s conversation with Hanks and why he says playing the part was terrifying will air Friday on “CBS This Morning.” “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is in theaters Friday.
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