Tom Hanks has been cast as the star of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood in the new biopic, You Are My Friend.

News David Crow

May 10, 2018

Tom Hanks has signed on to play Fred Rogers, aka the star of PBS’ beloved Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. The news came from an announcement by TriStar Pictures, which has been developing a Mr. Rogers biopic for some time under the title of You Are My Friend. The movie has been set-up with Marielle Heller, the director of Diary of a Teenage Girl, pegged to helm the picture.

This is a film that’s been in development ever since its screenplay by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster made the rounds when it was featured on the 2013 Black List. Based on the real friendship of journalist Tom Junod and Fred Rogers, the film will give a likely very dramatized account of a cynical journalist becoming awed by the star of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, following his being forced to write a profile piece on the entertainer.

Fred Rogers was a long-running actor and performer for children’s entertainment, having originated a version of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood on local syndication in the greater Pittsburgh area in 1967. After a year of Rogers refining his patented mild-mannered appeal—complete with an ever-present cardigan—Rogers saw his series picked up by PBS in 1968. From there, he raised multiple generations of children on lessons of kindness and surprisingly civil big city life until retiring in 2001.

Since his passing in 2003, Rogers has become a figure of nostalgia and paragon of good virtues. In this vein, he also is the subject of Focus Features’ upcoming documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Hanks seems to be perfect casting for playing a kind-hearted, all-ages icon after playing (a fairly sanitized interpretation of) Walt Disney in Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks in 2013, which also featured a famous entertainer bedazzling an initially unimpressed skeptic.

The movie will be produced by Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf via their Big Beach production company, as well as by Youree Henley. The production should also be a boon for TriStar, which has resurged in recent years since Tom Rothman moved to Sony, having recently released under the Sony umbrella the successful Baby Driver and the Oscar nominated All the Money in the World.

The movie is due to open on October 18, 2019.