The biopic will be helmed by ‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl’ director Marielle Heller.
Magic can happen in Hollywood. Tom Hanks, one of the most revered actors of our day, will have the opportunity to play everyone’s favorite neighbor. Variety reports that he will join the Fred Rogers biopic You Are My Friend, as the seminal TV personality known as “Mister Rogers.”
The good news doesn’t stop there as Marielle Heller is set to direct the film for TriStar Pictures. She previously helmed The Diary of a Teenage Girl, one of best coming-of-age dramas in the last few years. The combination of Heller working with Hanks? We are excited for that.
The story for You Are My Friend focuses on the real-life friendship between Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. On assignment 20 years ago, Junod was asked to do a profile on the children’s television icon, and during his research the two formed a friendship, one through which Junod discovered Rogers’s words weren’t only for kids.
Junod shared his thoughts about the biopic on Twitter this afternoon:
It is finally happening, and in the best of ways: a movie, very loosely based on the article I wrote for @Esquire 20 years ago, with Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers, two innovative screenwriters from "Transparency" scripting, and Marielle Heller directing. Well-timed, for this moment. https://t.co/JWsOCmL6XB
— Tom Junod (@TomJunod) January 29, 2018
This year has already brought one Mister Rogers film, a documentary that premiered at Sundance this month titled Won’t You Be My Neighbor? The Morgan Neville-helmed feature looks at the life of Rogers and his work advocating for children. He made difficult topics digestible for children, while simultaneously educating and informing them about the world. For a full review of the doc, visit our sister site Nonfics, where J.R. Kinnard writes, “This documentary proves that human kindness can be contagious.”
Hanks is no stranger to biopics. Over the past few years he has been Captain Sully in Eastwood’s Sully, Walt Disney in John Lee Hancock’s Saving Mr. Banks, and most recently he was Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee in Steven Spielberg’s The Post. His history of playing real-life personalities has not translated to Academy Award recognition — the lack of nomination for his performance in The Post was one of this years’ biggest snubs — but Hanks continues to do superb work.
Given Hanks’s commitments, including Aaron Schneider’s Greyhound, we can expect some time before You Are My Friend starts filming. Even with a while wait (probably awards season 2019), the possibility of Hanks as Rogers will be worth it.