TORONTO – American actor Tom Hanks on Sunday joked that the shoot of his latest film, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” – in which he portrays the late children’s television star Fred Rogers – was a “living hell” due to the main character’s complexity.
Hanks’ summary of the filming experience simply caused his colleagues’ laughter during the private press conference that the star and the rest of the production team held in Toronto, one day after the movie’s world premiere at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival.
The film, which is already being hyped as one of the likely contenders for next year’s top Academy Awards, focuses on the relationship between the mysterious icon of American kids’ TV, Mister Rogers (Hanks), and Lloyd Vogel, a reporter for the magazine “Esquire” played by American actor Matthew Rhys.
For one of the movie’s opening scenes, Hanks had to perform a complicated choreography in which he sings, takes off his jacket, puts on a sweater, takes off his shoes and ties his shoelaces while looking straight into the camera.
Hanks said it was a difficult scene that needed multiple takes until he succeeded in performing it correctly.
The film’s director, Marielle Heller (known for her 2015 comedy-drama “The Diary of a Teenage Girl”), said to the laughter of Hanks and the rest of the cast that they filmed exactly 22 takes.
But Hanks’ laughter turned into surprise when Heller revealed that she had made Hanks’ work much more difficult than necessary because in the original TV show, Rogers already had his sneaker laces virtually tied up to facilitate the choreography, something that did not happen in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”
Upon learning of Heller’s “carelessness,” Hanks exclaimed with faux outrage: “This movie is a living hell!”
When asked by Efe, Hanks admitted that he never liked Rogers’ show while growing up.
He said that “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” was a black-and-white program that he never tuned into and the fact that the dolls that Rogers played with did not move their mouths when they spoke did not look believable to him.
However, Hanks explained that after seeing “a million” hours of Rogers’ tapes, he stopped questioning him.
The actor acknowledged that many years later, when he was an adult and someone showed him a clip on the internet of Rogers chatting with a child in a wheelchair, he changed his perspective.
He added that those were the reasons why he needed to be in this movie.