Tom Hanks Reveals The Most Important Thing He Learned From Playing Mr. Rogers In A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood
Playing the role of a real person is never easy, and playing the role of a beloved icon is an even bigger challenge. Tom Hanks originally didn’t want to play Mr. Rogers in the new movie A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood , but after director Marielle Heller convinced him to join the project, becoming Fred Rogers ended up teaching Hanks an important lesson.
During a recent interview with Ellen DeGeneres on her daytime talk show, Hanks revealed that he tries to learn a little something from every gig. And, he says that Fred Rogers - who passed away in 2003 at the age of 74 - taught him that listening is a million times more important than talking.
“There's an acronym that I'm using now in my own life - W.A.I.T., wait - which stands for ‘Why am I talking?’” explained the 63-year-old. “You should just sit and start listening to everybody who comes your way and you'll be amazed at what you learn.”
He also thanked DeGeneres for listening to him, and told her she was a magnificent show host.
Millions of kids all over the United States grew up watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood on PBS - which ran from 1968 to 2001. And Hanks says that there was a lot of pressure from fans of the beloved TV legend, especially in his native Pittsburgh where they shot the movie.
Hanks said that during filming he found himself in an elevator with a Pittsburgh native, and they couldn’t stop grilling him for details about the movie. As the door to the elevator closed, Hanks said the fan told him: “You know, we take Mr. Rogers very seriously here in Pittsburgh.”
The Saving Private Ryan star joked that it was a veiled threat, and the fan was literally telling him not to screw it up.
Hanks admitted that getting into the right mindsight to play the TV legend required Heller coming to him and telling him to “slow down.”
Hanks explained that the director was “going for this obtuse thing,” which he described as “aggressive generosity,” And, the two-time Oscar winner says that’s what Fred Rogers practiced every day of his life.
A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood is now playing in theaters nationwide.