Marielle Heller never thought she would make a movie about men before she saw the script for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
The filmmaker made her directorial debut in 2015 with The Diary of a Teenage Girl, led by Bel Powley and Kristen Wiig, and followed it up with Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which starred Melissa McCarthy, in 2018.
Speaking to Elle magazine, the 40-year-old admitted that she thought she was going to dedicate her career to telling women’s stories, but couldn’t resist the script for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which stars Matthew Rhys as a journalist who goes to interview beloved children’s entertainer Fred Rogers, played by Tom Hanks.
“I never thought I was going to make a movie about men. I’ve always thought we don’t have enough movies about women, and if I spent my whole life making movies only about women, there still wouldn’t be enough movies about women, so that’s a wonderful thing to dedicate my career to,” she explained. “And then I read this script. And I thought, ’Damn, now I have to make this movie.’
“For the same reason I want to make movies about women, I also want to make movies that help men be better men and that can be an antidote to toxic masculinity. And I think the beginning of that is so deep in Mister Rogers’s teachings—being able to admit your feelings, being able to access them, finding ways to be more connected to our humanity. And that’s what this movie was about for me.”
In the film, Rogers helps Rhys’s character Lloyd express his emotions and deal with the anger and resentment he has harboured towards his father for many years, and Heller shared that she hopes the movie will help “blast those gender roles” that teach boys to keep their feelings buried deep.
© Cover Media