Is Tom Hanks Really like Mr. Rogers? The Writer Who Inspired ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ Answers

The new movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood tells the true story of a writer following Fred Rogers around to write an article. The journalist is played by Matthew Rhys and the character’s name is Lloyd Vogel.

Llyod is a very skeptical journalist who isn’t used to writing this type of profile. This along with his personality clashing with Rogers makes the assignment pretty hard on him.

Tom Hanks plays the iconic man. But is he actually anything like him in real life? Showbiz Cheat Sheet talked to Tom Junod at the premiere of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood at Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 8. This is his answer and more.

‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ is based on Tom Junod’s article

The real journalist behind the piece is Tom Junod and his article was published in Esquire in 1998. It was titled “Can You Say…Hero?

Hanks was approached to do the role before but he actually turned it down. He finally accepted it when director, Marielle Heller sent him the script.

“Obviously we’ve been talking about this movie a lot in the last few days. And I do think there is this kind of thing that happens where everybody goes. ‘Oh yeah, I love Tom Hanks. I love Mr. Rogers. This makes perfect sense,” Heller said during the premiere’s Q&A. However, she did note he put a lot of effort into this role.

Tom Junod said Tom Hanks interacts with people like Fred Rogers

Tom Hanks arrives to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 11th Annual Governors Awards
Tom Hanks arrives to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 11th Annual Governors Awards | Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Many people assume Hanks is good casting given he looks like Rogers in the movie. They also think he seems like a good guy and Junod agrees.

“I think the goodness was like sort of unforced and at the same time they work at it,” Junod told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “I think that Tom Hanks like Fred is very aware of the person in front of him and what that person might be bringing to the conversation and the encounter.”

“You say the word kindness all the time,” he said before adding, “you say it so often that it doesn’t really mean anything. But I think that what he meant by it was giving each individual what they need when he meets them. And I think that Tom has a lot of that in him.”

He hopes the movie will continue his message

What does the writer want people to take away from the story about his time with the celebrity? He hopes it will remind people what he was all about.

“The movie is sort of uniquely positioned to try to continue the message of a really rare individual,” said Junod. “I mean that’s the thing about Fred. I mean it’s not like there’s a lot of Fred Rogers around. In fact there’s I mean really kind of other than Tom Hanks, who is you know a successor to Fred Rogers.”

He added, “And so the fact that Fred is being played by someone who has the same kind of playing to goodness that is, I think, a remarkable opportunity.”

It sounds like Junod really admires both of them. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood will be released in theaters on Nov. 22.