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Fred Rogers biopic writer talks about growing up in Salinas

noah harpster
Noah Harpster

SALINAS, Calif. (KION) One of the most anticipated films of the year hits theaters today, and the creator behind a Fred Rogers biopic is from right here on the Central Coast.

Noah Harpster, a film writer, actor and Salinas native spoke with KION about his journey to Hollywood and how "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" turned into a reality.

"I had a two-year-old who wouldn't listen to a word I said, and sort of in a moment of desperation, I turned Mr. Rogers on ... And I remember my daughter turning and listening to Fred Rogers in a way she has never ever listened to me," Harpster said.

He had a vision and began writing a biopic about the beloved Fred Rogers. Now, a decade later, it has come to life on the big screen.

Harpster's rise to Hollywood success began at Salinas High School when he did not make the baseball team and was convinced by a friend to give theater a try. He was called in for his first acting role.

"The drama teacher said, 'Hey Noah, I know you know every word. You've been mouthing them the entire time we've been rehearsing. You are going on,"... so that was it," he said.

In 1994, Harpster graduated from Salinas High and studied theater in college. That has led to a flourishing career as an actor, writer, producer and director. "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" may be his most well-known project yet, landing Tom Hanks as the star, even though the Oscar winner originally turned down the role.

"We grew up with Tom Hanks playing our dad, or our uncle or our brother, and I think the same thing is true with Fred- that everyone comes to the table with something, and somehow these two are spiritually connected," Harpster said.

There was no way for the elementary school kid from San Benancio to foresee this future, but he always stayed true to some key values along the way.

"You benefit from listening and sharing your work with people- and be willing to get better- and if you feel like you know everything, you're not going to learn anything."

A message Mr. Rogers certainly would agree with.

Central Coast / Entertainment / Monterey County / Salinas / Top Stories

Drew Andre

Drew Andre is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.

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