Everyone’s favorite dad is about to play everyone’s favorite neighbor.
Tom Hanks has just signed on to play Mr. Rogers in the TriStar Pictures biopic “You Are My Friend.”
Directed by Marielle Heller (“Diary of a Teenage Girl”) with a script by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, “You Are My Friend” has been in the works since 2013, when it appeared on the Black List, an annual survey of the “most liked” motion picture screenplays not yet produced.
“You Are My Friend” follows the friendship of Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. While on assignment to write a profile on the TV icon, the initially cynical Junod’s perspective on Rogers (and life) transforms as the two cultivate a friendship.
The profile Junod wrote, “Can You Say... Hero?” was published in Esquire in 1998. More than just a portrayal of Rogers’ essence, it’s also a meditation on what is lost as we grow up, and taking Rogers’ lessons with us as we do.
Heller told Variety she was “thrilled to be making ‘You Are My Friend,’” saying 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,” Heller said. “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.”
As for Hanks’ role in the project, it’s not known when he’ll begin shooting. He’s expected to be in several upcoming blockbusters, including “Toy Story 4,” “Greyhound” and “Bios.”
Fans of Rogers know him as the the cardigan-wearing star of the children’s TV series “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” which ran for 33 years on PBS. Rogers died in 2003 at the age of 74.