Tom Hanks Jokes He Was "Threatened" by Fan to Take Mister Rogers Seriously

Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.
Tom Hanks on 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show'

While promoting 'It's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,' the actor spoke to Jimmy Kimmel and Ellen DeGeneres about playing the late beloved children's entertainer.

Tom Hanks opened up about playing the late Fred Rogers in It's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Monday and The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Tuesday.

While some of the biopic was filmed in New Mexico, It's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood was also shot in Pittsburgh at WQED, which is the television station where Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was filmed.

When dressed as his character, Hanks would often be approached by crewmembers that were "enamored" with his transformation, he related.

"You put on that red sweater and those blue shoes, you might as well be putting on Batman's cape and cowl," Hanks said of Rogers' iconic ensemble while visiting Jimmy Kimmel Live! "You feel powerful."

The actor later revealed that Pittsburgh residents take Rogers very seriously. "I was coming down from the gym in the hotel. I was all sweaty and a guy got on the elevator with me and he said, 'Oh, Mr. Hanks." And I said, 'Yeah, yeah. How you doing?'" he recalled.

After the man confirmed with Hanks that the actor was in town to film the biopic, he asked how the shooting was going. Hanks said that he was having a good time and hoped the movie turns out well. The man then said, "Well, I wish you good luck on the rest of your shooting, Mr. Hanks."

"He got out before me and as the door was closing, he turned and he looked at me and he said, 'We take Mister Rogers very seriously here,'" recalled Hanks. "His eyes were snake-like for a second and I'm thinking, 'I believe I have been threatened in the City of Three Rivers."

Later in the appearance, Hanks said that Rogers' wife, Joanne Rogers, consulted him throughout filming. In addition to telling Hanks about her husband's swimming routine, Joanne informed the actor that Rogers drank hot pomegranate juice each morning.

Hanks added that filming the introduction to Rogers' show in the movie took 27 takes. "There's tricks. His shoes were bigger than his feet were, so they came off very easily," he said. "The sneakers were already half tied, so we only had to put them on and do the rabbit ear and around." Hanks said that he had to tie the shoe himself, which always made him late to throw the shoe in the air.

While visiting The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Hanks revealed a lesson he learned while portraying Rogers.

"He taught me that listening is a million times more important than talking," said Hanks. "There is an acronym that I've now started using in my own life — W-A-I-T, wait — which stands for 'why am I talking?' You should just sit and start listening to everybody that comes across your way and you'll be amazed at what you learn."

Hanks also talked about going tandem skydiving for his son's birthday. "When he turned 21, I said, 'What would you like for your birthday?' He said, 'I want to go skydiving,'" recalled Hanks.

"You free fall and as you're free falling, your face goes like this," he said before grabbing onto his face and shaking his cheeks. After the professional skydiver popped the parachute, she did "this thing of swinging us around."

"I had had a huge breakfast burrito before the plane went off," he said. "I begged her. I was like a rag doll hanging from this harness thing. 'Please stop.'"

Once they landed, Hanks sat down for "about seven minutes waiting for my stomach to calm down while other people were coming down and landing."

Hanks and DeGeneres also touched on the fact that they will both be honored at the 2020 Golden Globe Awards. While Hanks will receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award, DeGeneres will be presented the Carol Burnett Award.

Hanks' appearance concluded with the actor and DeGeneres playing "Act It Out" with the audience.

After they split the audience in half, Hanks named his team the Cougars. Meanwhile, DeGeneres told her side of the crowd, "We're just people."

Hanks' team went first. A screen behind the actor gave the audience categories to act out. The Cougars were tasked to act out putting on a sweater, taking a selfie, throwing a tantrum, doing trust falls, participating in a conga line, riding a horse, modeling and reading a newspaper. By the end of the round, Hanks correctly guessed six of the actions. To celebrate their successful round, Hanks led the crowd in spelling out the team's name.

For DeGeneres' turn, her team acted out scaring someone, doing yoga, twerking, sleepwalking, doing jumping jacks, golfing, being elephants, dancing, juggling and playing peek-a-boo. The host correctly guessed nine of the actions, which made her side the winning team.