Morgan Neville on Why Mister Rogers’ Family Didn’t Want a Hagiography

     January 29, 2018

As always, the Sundance Film Festival hosted premieres for a bunch of new documentaries, and among the premieres was Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the new film from Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom). The documentary follows the life and career of Fred Rogers, showing the genesis of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and why the show was so special. Rather than just simply go through the events of Rogers’ life or attempt to be a hagiography, the documentary comes alive thanks to how Neville shines a light on Rogers’ values. The documentary is incredibly heartwarming, surprisingly thoughtful, and shows why we continue to adore Mister Rogers. Click here to read Matt Goldberg’s full review.

Before getting to see the film, I sat down with Morgan Neville for an exclusive video interview. He talked about the film’s enthusiastic response at Sundance, how Yo-Yo Ma led him to make a Mister Rogers documentary, the length of the first cut versus the finished film, a deleted scene showing the influence of Mister Rogers in China, his involvement with the release date and marketing, why he likes releasing the movie in summer, and a lot more. In addition, he talked about his upcoming projects including a documentary about Orson Welles’ unfinished final feature and how he included a clip of Welles doing the Transformers TV show in the Mister Rogers documentary.

Check out what he had to say in the video above and below is a listing of exactly what we talked about. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Will be in theaters this summer.

kia supper suiteFinally, a huge thank you to everyone at Kia and The Future Party for helping to make these interviews happen at the Kia Supper Suite and offering up transportation in the all new Kia Stinger high performance Sportback for our guests. We’d also like to thank Altec Lansing, Kunde Wines, Blue Moon Brewing, and Topo Chico for their support.

Morgan Neville:

  • His reaction to the film’s enthusiastic response at Sundance.
  • How Yo-Yo Ma led him to make a Mister Rogers documentary, and the discoveries he made.
  • How he put together financing for the documentary and why his family didn’t want Rogers to be made out to be a saint.
  • The length of the first cut versus the finished film.
  • wont-you-be-my-neighbor-image

    Image via Focus Features

    A deleted scene showing the influence of Mister Rogers in China.

  • His thoughts on Blu-ray and whether it’s better to release deleted scenes or an extended cut.
  • When he found out he was headed to Sundance.
  • Cracking the code on when you come to Sundance.
  • His involvement with the release date and marketing.
  • Why he likes releasing the movie in summer.
  • Why he multitasks even though he’s currently promoting Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  • His upcoming projects including a documentary about Orson Welles’ unfinished final feature.
  • How he included a clip of Welles doing the Transformers TV show in the Mister Rogers documentary.
  • Trying to get away from doing a bio-doc and using a small aspect of someone’s life rather than a cradle-to-grave story.

Latest News

Close