Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent of the feature film, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood! In portraying the role of “Mr. McFeely,” what can you tell us about your experience in taking on the project in light of the audience’s familiarity with (and love for) the character (originally portrayed by David Newell) from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood?
Daniel Krell: Yes, it can be quite daunting to play a character who is real and also currently living (and adored). I’ve done it a couple of times, and I always say that once a person is put into a script, that person becomes a character. And all characters are open to interpretation. I think that’s true, and it also takes some of the pressure off.
BD: As an actor who has worked extensively on both stage and screen, do you find that you utilize different tools or skill sets when approaching a film role?
DK: There are differences, and there are also similarities. The work of developing a character in a time and place with a backstory and needs and relationships, etc. is the same, but the way you communicate that to the audience is different. Film has some advantages in that the camera does some of the work for you. The theatre has advantages in that the audience and actor are in the same space at the same time, and each performance is unique. Sort of the “you can never step into the same river twice” effect.
BD: You had quite a talented cast and crew working on the production. What can you tell us about your shared creative process in bringing the film to life?
DK: Well, I guess it all starts with the director who sets the tone, so we were extremely fortunate to have Mari [Heller] at the helm. And, I guess, having Tom Hanks on board isn’t so bad either… I guess. Ha! That set the tone perfectly for the themes and message of the film itself. I imagine it would be very difficult to make a film about being a decent human being without decent human beings leading the creative process.
BD: What do you hope that viewers will take away from the film, and what makes film such an important medium through which to connect with other characters and their stories?
DK: We constantly need stories that remind us what it is to be human - that show us how to examine our own behavior and see if we are doing good or harm to the world. I believe this film does that. We also need different forms of storytelling such as books, film, theatre, music, etc. to achieve that, as well. It’s almost like the way you treat a chronic illness; it needs constant attention, and there can be multi-pronged approaches to keep the person healthy.
BD: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is receiving rave reviews both critically and from audiences alike. How would you describe your experience thus far with the audience and critical response to the film?
DK: Well, I’m not with the audience when the film is shown (as one would be in live theatre), and I don’t really read reviews (They get in my head.), but I always listen to those certain people whose opinions I trust. That helps me keep the right perspective on what’s important.