Director Marielle Heller's drama stars Matthew Rhys as a cynical journalist seeking guidance from America's dad
Have your tissues handy, because the first trailer for Marielle Heller’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (above) packs an emotional punch.
“You love broken people like me,” Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), a struggling journalist grappling with new fatherhood in the wake of his own father’s (Chris Cooper) ailing health, says to Mister Rogers (Tom Hanks) in the just-released preview. “Sometimes we have to ask for help,” Rogers responds. “And that’s okay.”
Such is the starting point for the upcoming drama inspired by writer Tom Junod’s actual experiences in traveling to Pittsburgh to profile Rogers for a 1998 Esquire piece. The film, also starring Susan Kelechi Watson and Tammy Blanchard, chronicles Vogel’s journey to the famed Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood host’s hometown, where his hardened, cynical heart softens under Rogers’ paternal guidance.
“We are trying to give the world positive ways of dealing with their feelings,” Rogers tells Vogel. “I think the best thing we can do is to let people know that each one of them is precious.”
In an exclusive interview, Heller (director of critically acclaimed hits like Diary of a Teenage Girl and Can You Ever Forgive Me?) recently told EW that, while the film isn’t a biopic, she went to great lengths to recreate the warmth of Rogers’ world — including hiring Rogers’ former crew members (like camera operator John Burdick and set decorator Barbie Pastorik), filming scenes with vintage Ikegami cameras (the same ones used to film the original children’s show), and raiding Rogers’ former closet for costume accents (every tie Hanks wears in the film is one that belonged to the real-life man).
“[He calls for] us to be our best selves, and I think that’s required of parents in order to be patient and see these little people we’re bringing into the world with compassion,” Heller said. “Mister Rogers helped break down those things in a way that, as a parent, you can gain a lot of compassion that translates beyond just your relationship with your children; it translates into your relationship with your partner or spouse, or relationships at work. I know it translated into how I wanted to make this movie, and the process by which we work creatively and how we treat the crew. I approached every decision with the movie as: ‘How would Fred approach this? How can we treat everybody with a level of emotional empathy and compassion that shows that we value everyone?’ That was his main message: Everyone is valued.”
Watch the first trailer for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood — which releases Nov. 22 in theaters nationwide — above.