PITTSBURGH (KDKA)– “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” has officially hit the big screen with theaters across the area showing the film this evening.

Director Marielle Heller says she felt it in her heart, to make a movie about Mr. Rogers.

“Fred speaks to something inside of us, I feel like we don’t have a lot of people who feel like role models in our current life. I’m a mom raising a young kid thinking about how do we raise kind people in this world. And Fred just spoke to that part of me that is looking for that wisdom.”

Heller and Tom Junod, the reporter who profiled Fred Rogers for Esquire Magazine, says Mr. Rogers had a great influence on his life, in particular when it comes to parenting.

“You were a child too is one of the most profound parenting tips that everyone has ever told me and Fred didn’t use that as a parenting tip, it just became a parenting tip,” said Junod.

For Bill Isler, the former head of the Fred Rogers Company, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood captures the essence of Rogers and another character in the movie– the City of Pittsburgh.

“No matter how many times I watch this film I see something that is new, that is Fred-like, whether it is the mannerisms of Tom Hanks or something he is saying, I think they have done a phenomenal job of capturing Tom Hanks in this film.”

Isler said, “In my heart, it felt like it was the movie I wanted to see so it was the movie I wanted to make. It felt like we needed this movie now.”

Heller hopes audiences will walk away from the movie feeling the kindness of Mr. Rogers and recognizing their abilities to have the same effect on others.

Lisa Washington