Tom Hanks on Why Mister Rogers Isn't Like Other Real People He's Played (Exclusive)


Although Tom Hanks has tackled the lives of a number of real-life people throughout his career, taking on kids show host Fred Rogers in the new film, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, was different for a very simple reason.

In several of his previous roles based on real people, "what they had was a moment in which they were trying to achieve something that was of stellar importance," he explained to ET's Ash Crossan while at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday. 

"Certainly Walt Disney, Charlie Wilson, when I played Charlie Wilson, and a number of other real people," he continued. "I think Mr. Fred Rogers is the first person I've played that is not undergoing the great crisis of their business or their lives." 

Hanks went on: "Walt Disney wanted to get a movie made [in Saving Mr. Banks], Sully had to save 156 people, Charlie Wilson's War, he wanted to go to bat with the Soviet Union. Mr. Rogers doesn't want anything, except maybe for people to understand themselves and the world a little bit better, so that's a different kind of gig."

Besides Walt Disney, Charlie Wilson and Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, 63-year-old Hanks has also portrayed other real individuals including James B. Donovan in Bridge of Spies, Captain Richard Phillips in Captain Phillips, Jim Lovell in Apollo 13 and Ben Bradlee in The Post

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood centers on the acclaimed-yet-jaded journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), who begrudgingly accepts the job of interviewing Fred Rogers (Hanks), which sets in motion a change in Vogel's life and outlook.

While chatting with ET at the film festival, the two-time Oscar winner realized there's one thing in which he's not the champion -- singing the ET theme song.

"Where am I on the standings?" he asked and was told he's in the No. 2 spot with 13 times, behind Bruce Willis, who's sung it around 18 times.

"Curse him! My nemesis!" the beloved leading man joked before breaking into a jaunty new rendition of the song.

Check out all the fun in the video above!

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood arrives in theaters on Nov. 22.


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