Hollywood just paid Fred Rogers a big compliment.
But it’s probably not the one they expected.
The long-awaited trailer for the Mr. Rogers biopic, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, dropped this past week. Mr. Rogers is being played by none other than Tom Hanks.
Let that sink in for a minute. The most iconic actor of our time, Tom Hanks has made a career of portraying American heroes on the big screen. The list is long and varied. Fictional heroes Forrest Gump from the Vietnam era, and the brave Captain Miller in the World War II flick Saving Private Ryan. Equally brave astronaut Jim Lovell in Apollo 13. He played Sully Sullenberger, the pilot who landed his jet safely on the Hudson River, without a single injury to his nearly 200 passengers and crew. James Donovan, the American lawyer who negotiated the freedom of U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers from his Soviet captors, is in his repertoire. Who can forget Hanks’ turn as Chuck Noland, the fictional Fed Ex employee stranded on a remote Pacific island in Cast Away. Wilson! Wilson!
And of course, there’s Woody from the Toy Story franchise. I cannot lie, I cried at the end of Toy Story 4. You will, too.
Pretty heady stuff, especially if you’re Fred Rogers, a man whose most remarkable feat may be that PBS carried his show for so long.
And yet despite the striking skill with which Tom Hanks portrays his characters, as I’m sure will be the case with Fred Rogers in the upcoming movie, the most striking point of the trailer was a statement made to Mr. Rogers by the other main character in the film, journalist Lloyd Vogel, who was writing a profile on him.
You love broken people like me.
This statement is proof that the people understood exactly what Mr. Rogers was trying to do. And from everything I’ve read about Fred Rogers, the ordained Presbyterian minister, Mr. Rogers would attribute that love of broken people not to himself, but to Jesus Christ.
In fact, I think it’s no mistake that Mr. Rogers referred to those around him as his “neighbors.”
A second commandment I give you, that you love your neighbor as yourself. – Matthew 22:39
Jesus’ entire ministry on Earth was about loving broken people. He chose broken people as his disciples. He touched the sick and the unclean, and healed them. He spoke into their hearts. He raised them from the dead.
Yes, Jesus loved them to death — to His death on a cross.
Greater love has no man than this, that he lay his life down for his friends. – John 15:13
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. — Romans 5:8
Who were those sinners? Everyone — the sick, the hurting, the misunderstood, the imperfect. The broken people like me.
So as compliments go, I’ll take comparing my love to the love of Jesus Christ over having Tom Hanks portray me in a movie any day.