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Tom Hanks didn’t want to be Mr. Rogers. Then he met Marielle

NEW YORK (AP) — Since it was first announced, Tom Hanks’ casting as Mr. Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” has felt like kismet. Here was an actor nearly synonymous with affability playing one of the friendliest faces to ever flicker across a TV screen. But as inevitable as Hanks playing Mr. Rogers may have seemed, it wouldn’t have happened without filmmaker Marielle Heller.

Hanks had passed several times on the script before he happened to meet Heller at a backyard birthday party for his son, Colin. The two met again and eventually settled on “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” The movie opens in theaters this weekend.

When Hanks first donned Rogers’ trademark cardigan sweater, he says he felt “like Batman.”

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