TORONTO -- Tom Hanks says it took 22 takes to nail down the signature TV entrance of Mr. Rogers, in which the beloved children's entertainer sings while removing his jacket and shoes.
Hanks joked at a Toronto film festival press conference that the shoot for "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" was "a living hell," while director Marielle Heller admitted to "sweater snafus" in their bid to recreate memorable scenes from "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."
The "Cast Away" star plays the late Fred Rogers in a story based on a real-life friendship that developed between the soft-spoken TV star and a jaded magazine writer sent to profile him, played by Matthew Rhys.
Hanks says the shoot involved contorting himself under set pieces to manipulate a hand puppet while singing live, and addressing a TV camera while zipping up a sweater and tying sneaker laces. Rogers died from stomach cancer in 2003 at age 74.
The bearded Hanks kept journalists chuckling at a jovial press conference, in which he and the film's director and screenwriters also touted Rogers' gentle way of connecting with children as a welcome balm to today's cynicism.
The Toronto International Film Festival runs through Sept. 15.
Hanks held court during the press conference, detailing the choreography involved in the movie's opening, which mirrors the opening scene of each episode of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."
"You think you have a lot of time in that song? You try to come in, take a jacket off, hang it (up), close the (closet) door... take a pair of shoes off -- at the same time. Twenty-two takes, baby!" Hanks said to laughter Sunday.
"This movie was a living hell."
Hanks added that he watched "eight million episodes" of "Mister Rogers" to nail down the right mannerisms, noting that he was keen to make sure his portrayal is genuine.
"The hardest thing that I think that any actor has is beating down that self-consciousness that you feel naturally," he says.
"Fred required me to kind of somehow still the wild horses that go through your brain because so much of it is, 'Get it' and 'Nab it' and 'Punch it' and make the day and get the shot."