Tom Hanks Channels Mr. Rogers In Reflecting On Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

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By Jonathan Lehman/Meredith Ganzman

Tom Hanks believes it can still be a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

“In the course of such bloodshed and horror as happened in Squirrel Hill -- everybody comes out and helps,” Hanks said Thursday night as part of a conversation with Gayle King at the 92nd Street Y about his upcoming book “Uncommon Type.” 
“And guess what? It is possible to love thy neighbor with no exceptions. We can be good at that if we choose to be.”

The Academy Award-winning actor was speaking in the context of having recently returned from filming in Pittsburgh, where 11 people were killed on Oct. 27 in anti-Semitic shooting rampage at the Tree Of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

Hanks plays the iconic children's show host Fred Rogers, better known as Mr. Rogers, in an as-yet-untitled film slated for release in October 2019.

“We shot at the studios of WQED, where Mr. Rogers actually shot his [show>,” Hanks said. “And we drove past that synagogue 16 times in the course of while we were there. We always thought, 'Oh, what a great name for a synagogue.’”

Hanks said he recalled some wise words from Rogers as he tried to process to the horror of the Squirrel Hill shooting: “A horrible thing has happened, but you cannot give up hope. And if you need a source of hope, look to the helpers."