Academy Award winner Tom Hanks will play iconic American television personality Fred McFeely Rogers, better known as Mr. Rogers, in a forthcoming biopic titled You Are My Friend. Tristar Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures, acquired the distribution rights for both domestic and international release. Marielle Heller of Diary of a Teenage Girl will direct the film from a screenplay written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster. According to Variety, the film is based on a real-life friendship between Rogers and journalist Tom Junod, who interviewed the beloved host and “[found] his perspective on life transformed.”
The forthcoming film’s director stated how happy she is to be telling this story:
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.
Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf of Big Beach Films (Loving) will produce alongside The Beguiled producer Youree Henley. Turtletaub and Saraf said in a statement, “Now more than ever, we all need a re-introduction to Fred Rogers’ message of uncompromising love and kindness between all living things. Mari Heller is the perfect visionary filmmaker to bring Noah and Micah’s script to life and because of her vision and this remarkable script, we have the quintessential actor to play Fred Rogers.”
President of Tristar Hannah Minghella said, “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. We are proud to partner with Marielle, Tom and everyone at Big Beach to bring this inspirational true story to audiences all over the world.”
Hanks is just coming off the Oscar-nominated film The Post and is currently working on executive producing the forthcoming HBO limited series Lewis and Clark, starring Matthias Schoenaerts and Casey Affleck. Hanks will also star in Sony’s World War II movie Greyhound, slated to begin production this year, among a slew of other projects. Production on You Are My Friend is set to begin this September but that date is subject to change depending on Hanks’ schedule.