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Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood — a television show tailored for preschool children — captivated its audience during its 33 years on the air. The educational series was lauded for its thoughtful and groundbreaking style of teaching kids sensitive topics like losing a pet, accepting one another through differences and the bravery of self-love.
Not only was the PBS program a hit for little ones, but parents and adults became enamored with the charming Rogers, as well. Wearing his distinct sweaters and navy tennis shoes, Fred Rogers became a welcome house guest as millions would tune into his program, singing the iconic theme song along with the host.
In 1998, writer Tom Junod was assigned to profile Rogers for a special issue of Esquire magazine. The theme? American heroes. Surprising to many, Junod and Rogers developed a relationship even after the profile was completed and remained friends until Rogers passed away in 2003.
Sony's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, now in theaters, is loosely based off of the profile Junod wrote and follows the friendship that emerges from it.
In a recent piece for The Atlantic, Junod wrote about the film and its depiction of the bond he shared with Rogers.
"And yet the movie … seems like a culmination of the gifts that Fred Rogers gave me and all of us, gifts that fit the definition of grace because they feel, at least in my case, undeserved," Junod said.
Read more about the cast and the real-life characters they're playing below.
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Jon M. Chu