Fred Rogers' widow, Joanne, has nothing but good things to say about Tom Hanks portraying her late husband

By Alexia Fernandez
November 07, 2019 12:00 PM

Fred Rogers‘ widow approves of Tom Hanks portraying the late TV icon.

In a PEOPLE exclusive behind the scenes look of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Joanne, 91, couldn’t help but gush about Hanks, 63, who plays Rogers in the upcoming film.

“One of the most wonderful things about this film is that Tom Hanks is playing Fred Rogers. Fred Rogers was a huge fan of Tom Hanks,” Joanne says. “He looks adorable as Fred.”

The pianist adds the film is a “fabulous tribute to Fred,” who she was married to for 51 years before his death in 2003.

“I think he would like this very much,” Joanne says. “There’s a wonderful energy there. It’s a very needful film right now.”

Tom Hanks; Fred Rogers
Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty; Fotos International/Courtesy of Getty

As for what she most wants to see come from the Marielle Heller-director film, she says, “I hope it makes everybody feel good.”

The movie has been certified 97 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. The film follows journalist Lloyd Vogel as he comes to know Rogers after he was assigned to write a profile about the star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

RELATED: Tom Hanks Tugs at Your Heartstrings as Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Trailer

Hanks stars opposite Matthew Rhys, who plays Vogel, as well as Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Cooper and Wendy Makkena.

The film is based on an article written by journalist Tom Junod that centered on Rogers and the ensuing friendship the two formed before Rogers’ death in 2003.

Rogers was the subject of the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? that premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and was a hit at the summer box office.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is in theaters Nov. 22.

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