Tristar Pictures have announced the casting of Tom Hanks to play Fred Rogers, the children’s television icon who created Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, in a biopic titled You Are My Friend. Marielle Heller (Diary of a Teenage Girl) will direct the film from a script by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster (Transparent, Beautiful Ruins).
You Are My Friend is inspired by a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and award-winning journalist Tom Junod. In the heart-warming story, a cynical journalist begrudgingly accepts an assignment to write a profile piece on the beloved icon and finds his perspective on life transformed.
Production on the film will start in September. It will be produced by Big Beach’s Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf alongside Youree Henley (The Beguiled, 20th Century Woman).
“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,” said Hannah Minghella, President of TriStar Pictures.
“Now more than ever, we all need a re-introduction to Fred Rogers’ message of uncompromising love and kindness between all living things,” said Turtleaub and Saraf. “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.”
“I’m thrilled to be making You Are My Friend,” said director Marielle Heller. “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.”