Why Mister Rogers Isn’t the Main Character in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Mr. Rogers Mister Rogers Fred Rogers

Mr. Rogers couldn’t be the lead character in a A Beautiful Day in The Neighborhood, in which Tom Hanks stars as the Mister’ Rogers Neighborhood host, for a simple reason, according to the film’s screenwriters: Fred Rogers was just too good.

“We quickly concluded that Fred Rogers wasn’t a good protagonist for a biopic by any reasonable definition, because he was unwaveringly awesome for 73 years and then died,” said Micah Fitzerman-Blue-Blue, who co-wrote the script with Noah Harpster. “There seemed to be no peaks and valleys in his story. He really did live an amazing life, almost intentionally. We knew that if we were going to write about him, we would have to find another way into the story and write a character with an arc.”

So they turned to Tom Junod’s beautiful 1998 Esquire magazine profile of Rogers. Then Harpster and Fitzerman-Blue created a new character, Lloyd Vogel, who is played by Matthew Rhys and is similar to Junod, but not identical.

Also Read: Why Fred Rogers Always Weighed 143 Pounds In the film, Vogel reluctantly agrees to profile the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood host—who in turn tries to help Vogel work through his cynicism and anger. You can read Harpster and Fitzerman-Blue’s discussion of how they crafted the Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood screenplay here. Harpster and Fitzerman-Blue also sat down with the MovieMaker Interviews podcast, which you can listen on your favorite podcasting platform (see links below) or right here:

The latest MovieMaker Interviews podcast includes not only our interview with Harpster, Fitzerman-Blue and Junod, but also Daniel Kaluuya, star of the new Queen & Slim. You can find it on:

Apple

Spotify

Stitcher

Here are some highlights of the episode, with time stamps:

Here are some highlights of the episode, with timestamps:

1:15: Daniel Kaluuya interview begins. Audio is dodgy for a few seconds. It gets better at…

2:14: Audio issue fixed. Enjoy Daniel Kaluuya’s awesome British accent in all its glory.

3:30: Why he knew he wanted to play Slim.

4:54: Why “Queen & Slim” is more “Thelma & Louise” than “Bonnie & Clyde.”

10:01: He weighs in on the supposed fight between cinema and the Marvel Universe

13:40: He discusses the upcoming film “Jesus Was My Homeboy,” in which he’ll play Black Panther activist Fred Hampton.

16:05: Interview with “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” screenwriters Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue, and Tom Junod, whose Esquire article “Can You Say… Hero?” helped inspire the film. 17:15: Let’s talk about anger.

21:00: How much is Mathew Rhys’ “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” character, Esquire journalist Lloyd Vogel, based on Esquire journalist Tom Junod?

26:20: Would Fred Rogers be disillusioned by the world today?

26:40: About that Navy SEAL/sniper thing

28:50: How Noah discovered Mister Rogers was “a warlock who speaks toddler.”

30: At one point Mr. Rogers’ estate said there will “never ever be a Mister Rogers movie.”

34:10: Where the Mister Rogers sniper urban myth came from.

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