The trailer for the upcoming Mister Rogers biopic A Beautiful Day in The Neighborhood dropped today and it’s stirring up a lot of emotion and nostalgia. The film, which stars Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers and releases this Thanksgiving, frames the life and times of Fred Rogers through an interview with a jaded magazine journalist played by Matthew Rhys and is based off a real-life magazine profile written about the icon. The movie is based on a true-life story and, as the filmmakers seem to be about as much verisimilitude as possible — the portions of the movie that take place on the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood set were filmed on the actual Pittsburgh set, with the stage meticulously recreated by the crew — there are many scenes in the trailer based on actual life. Here are some of our favorites.
Matthew Rhys of The Americans is seen interviewing Hanks’ Mister Rogers in the trailer. That’s because the film is based off a magazine feature by prolific writer Tom Junod titled “Can You Say Hero?” and published in Esquire in 1998. It’s the definitive profile of Rogers, a tender, moving piece in which Junod is won over by the genuine charm and philosophy of Rogers. The character in the film is based off a fictionalized version of Junod.
Mister Rogers loved swimming. It was his preferred exercise and, as this Los Angeles Times article makes clear, he was in the pool nearly every morning between 7 and 830, doing laps for 20-25 minutes. It’s no surprise that, in the trailer, Mister Rogers is seen swimming at his favorite pool for a brief moment. That pool is featured both in Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the documentary that was released in 2018, as well as in episode 1493 of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood titled “Mister Rogers Talks About Discipline.”
The Subway Seranade
During the trailer, there’s a scene of Mister Rogers being sung to by a number of passengers. This anecdote was taken directly out of Junod’s profile. Here’s the passage:
Once upon a time, Mister Rogers went to New York City and got caught in the rain. He didn’t have an umbrella, and he couldn’t find a taxi, either, so he ducked with a friend into the subway and got on one of the trains. It was late in the day, and the train was crowded with children who were going home from school. Though of all races, the schoolchildren were mostly black and Latino, and they didn’t even approach Mister Rogers and ask him for his autograph. They just sang. They sang, all at once, all together, the song he sings at the start of his program, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” and turned the clattering train into a single soft, runaway choir.
The Tent Scene
At one point in the trailer, Mister Rogers is seen doing something most of us have done one time or another: struggling to pitch a tent. This is taken directly from an unaired episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood the clip of which can be found online. Amidst audience laughter, Rogers calmly tries (and fails) to set up the teepee-style tent, trying to press down on the poles only to see them bend stubbornly. Rogers banters with the audience and giggles to himself as it happens, proving that he really did have priestly patience.
The Child with the Oxygen Tank
One of most iconic episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was when he brought on a child who used a wheelchair named Jeff Erlanger to talk about his experience and explain why he’s just like other kids. The two had a real-life friendship: About five years earlier, Erlinger asked to meet Rogers for a Make-A-Wish request. Erlanger’s parents contacted Rogers and, after his appearance on the episode, the two became lifelong friends. Later on, when Mister Rogers had a show on electric vehicles, he brought Jeff back on the show because of his electric wheelchair, and even improvised a song about Jeff. While what we see in the trailer is the briefest glimpse of a kid with an oxygen tank, this seems to be a recreation of this iconic television moment.