The world needs Mister Rogers now more than ever, and you can see that demand coming to fruition this year. First, there’s the excellent Fred Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, which hits theaters on June 8th (click here for my review), and now there’s some momentum on the Fred Rogers biopic, You Are My Friend. Variety reports that TriStar Pictures picked up worldwide distribution rights to the movie, which will star Tom Hanks as the beloved TV icon with Diary of A Teenage Girl helmer Marielle Heller set to direct from a script by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster.
Per Variety, “The film is inspired by a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and award-winning journalist Tom Junod. In the story, a cynical journalist begrudgingly accepts an assignment to write a profile piece on the beloved icon and finds his perspective on life transformed.” While that may sound kind of corny, after seeing Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, I totally buy it. That’s not to say that Rogers was a saint, but rather that by living his positive values, he was able to win people over.
“I’m thrilled to be making ‘You Are My Friend,’” Heller said. “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.”
The question now becomes when You Are My Friend my shoot. The movie doesn’t have a production date (or an actor to play Junod), and Hanks is also attached to star in the World War II movie Greyhound (which Hanks also wrote) and the sci-fi film Bios from director Miguel Sapochnik. However, if everything comes together quickly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re able to get You Are My Friend in front of cameras before the year’s end.