Tom Hanks’ latest role will have generations of people singing “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”
Hanks will play Fred Rogers, also known as Mister Rogers, in the film “You Are My Friend,” based on the friendship between one of the country’s most likable entertainers and a journalist.
According to Variety, the movie tells the story of Tom Junod, “a cynical journalist begrudgingly accepts an assignment to write a profile piece on the beloved icon and finds his perspective on life transformed.”
Junod’s profile of Rogers, “Can You Say…Hero?” was published in the November 1998 issue of Esquire. “Once upon a time, a little boy loved a stuffed animal whose name was Old Rabbit,” the profile began.
Hanks’ “America’s Dad” persona makes him the perfect choice to portray Rogers, according to The Washington Post.
Junod expressed his excitement for the film on Twitter, saying that “It is finally happening, and in the best of ways.”
“The really cool thing about Tom Hanks playing Fred is that Fred and Tom Hanks are similar in a really essential way in that they are gentle people, they are soft-spoken people, but they are powerful people,” Junod said to Esquire. “I think that Tom Hanks can really bring that aspect of Fred out.”
Marielle Heller will be directing the movie and, according to The Washington Post, she was “inspired” by Fred Rogers.
“The script knocked me out with its message of kindness and exploration of the human spirit,” she said. “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 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.”
Micah Fiterzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster wrote the film’s script. They had written a different script based on Rogers and it appeared on the 2013 Black List, a list of unproduced scripts most liked by studio executives.
Rogers has been the subject of other documentaries including one that was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival called “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
The star of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” died in 2003 at the age of 74, People Magazine reported.
The PBS program aired from 1968 to 2003.
The Washington Post describes Rogers as “a larger-than-life figure beloved by generations of children who also changed countless lives by his example of generosity and unconditional love.”
Although a release date has not been set yet, Sony TriStar Pictures will reportedly start production for “You Are My Friend” in September.
“This is the perfect alchemy of talent coming together at the perfect time to remind us all of the transformative power of kindness and respect to heal and to unite,” President of TriStar Pictures Hannah Minghella said according to USA Today.
Hanks has recently portrayed several different real-life personalities in films. Last year he played Washinton Post editor-in-chief Ben Bradlee in “The Post,” which has been nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards, according to Variety.
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