He's too darn lovable!
Tom Hanks' new movie A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood is a film based on the relationship that was formed between Fred Rogers and Tom Junod after Junod profiled Rogers for Esquire in 1998. So it only seems fitting that Hanks would have his own heartfelt profile for The New York Times with journalist Taffy Brodesser-Akner on the heels of his newest film. For those fearing that the true Hanks would be uncovered, it turns out that he's just as nice as everyone has always said.
"In our interviews, he says 'oh dear' and 'geez' and 'for cryin' out loud,'" Brodesser-Akner shared of his interaction with the leading man. "He is a history enthusiast. He is an information enthusiast. He is an enthusiasm enthusiast."
As for Hanks himself, he understands that his niceness can sometimes seem like a mirage or a defense tactic, but for critics of the film who think his legendary portrayal of Rogers came easy, he would like to acknowledge that while they may both be remembered as the nicest men on earth, Hanks did in fact work his butt off in this role.
He had to learn how to talk slowly and more deliberately as part of his process. Even so, director Marielle Heller confirms that Hanks and Rogers had a lot of similarities.
"I think it's an essence thing," Heller revealed. "It's something in the energy and the essence and behind the eyes that you feel the same way looking at him as you feel looking at Mister Rogers, and that was what was so important to me. I never wanted him to be doing an imitation."
Hanks is also acutely aware that people view him as possibly "too nice," but there is nothing he plans to do about it. When asked point blank if he had a dark side, the actor's response was perfect. "Yes, and finally, finally I'll get to tell it to The New York Times," he shared sarcastically.
Although he agrees he has a soft and inviting demeanor, he doesn't necessarily agree that you can put it all under one label of simply nice. "I recognized in myself a long time ago that I don't instill fear in anybody," he said. "Now, that's different than being nice, you know? I think I have a cache of mystery. But it's not one of malevolence."
Don't worry, Hanks isn't planning on shedding his good guy persona any time soon, but he's hoping to offer more of a layered view of himself in the future. He may not be the real life Mister Rogers, but being Tom Hanks is pretty nice too.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood hits theaters on November 22.