It has been announced that Tom Hanks will be playing Mr. Rogers in the new biopic You Are My Friend. The movie will cover the real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and award-winning journalist Tom Junod. Diary of a Teenage Girl director Marielle Heller is helming the movie with a script written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster. Production is expected to begin in September and the release date is currently unknown, but that news is expected to drop soon. The movie is being made by TriStar Pictures.
Marielle Heller expressed her excitement to be directing the biopic about Fred Rogers and his friendship with Tom Junod. Heller notes that she is "in awe" of Rogers' work and also says that now is the perfect time for this particular movie to be made. She had this to say.
"I'm thrilled to be making You Are My Friend. The script knocked me out with its message of kindness and its exploration of the human spirit. As a mother, I am so inspired by the teachings of Fred Rogers and as a human I am in awe of his life's work. I can't wait to bring his story to the public and be a part of such a thoughtful, smart group of people who are all coming together to make this film, which truly feels to me like an antidote to our very fractured culture."
Marielle Heller is a former actress who started directing in the last handful of years. She has directed an episode of Transparent and has a new movie coming out in 2018 entitled Can You Ever Forgive Me?
As previously noted, You Are My Friend is about the friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. Junod was well known for being deeply cynical and originally did not want to write a piece about the extra positive Mr. Rogers. However, after time, the two became close friends and Rogers ended up changing Junod's outlook on life. In other words, this is the perfect movie to have Tom Hanks as the star. There really isn't a better actor to take on the role and one can already see the awards nominations crashing in when the movie is released.
Fred Rogers is also the subject of a new documentary, Won't You be my Neighbor, which recently premiered at Sundance and tells the story of Rogers' life. Rogers starred in the long-running Mister Rogers' Neighborhood TV series from 1963 until 2001, making it the longest running children's show until Sesame Street beat that record in 2002. The series was shown up until 2007 when most channels stopped showing the groundbreaking series. Fred Rogers ended every episode by saying the following.
"You always make each day a special day. You know how: By just your being you/yourself. There's only one person in the whole world that's like you, and that's you. And people can like you just/exactly the way you are. I'll be back next time. Bye-bye!"
You Are My Friend is expected to begin production in September and anticipation is already high for Tom Hanks playing a role that was pretty much tailor-made for the actor. The biopic, paired with the Won't You Be My Neighbor? documentary is currently spreading the positive messages of Mr. Rogers to a new generation that may lead to the series showing up on TV again. Fred Rogers passed away in 2003 at the age of 74. This news was originally reported by Variety.