Hanks Snags Coveted ‘Mister Rogers’ Role

By TRILBY BERESFORD | Reporter

Many people grew up enjoying the children’s television series “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” starring the playful and somewhat mysterious Fred Rogers, a gentle man who related to younger generations with patience, empathy and love.

Those who didn’t received a unique opportunity to learn about Mr. Rogers’ mass appeal in the recent documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (Which, if you missed it, is screening at Palisades Branch Library at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13.)

Nostalgia and education are now continuing in a new film from Sony Pictures, with none other than Palisadian Tom Hanks donning the familiar red cardigan.

The film, titled “You Are My Friend,” is directed by Marielle Heller, who gained prominence for “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” in 2015, and written by frequent collaborators Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster.

According to an interview that Heller gave to Entertainment Weekly, the project is not a regular biopic as one might assume: “It’s a movie that’s largely focused on a reporter and Mr. Rogers’ relationship to his life, and how the reporter’s whole life changes when coming in contact with Fred Rogers,” she explained.

The reporter in question is Tom Junod, who profiled Mr. Rogers for Esquire magazine in 1998. The detailed and well-observed article was titled “Can You Say … Hero?”

Junod recently posted on Twitter, “The Fred Rogers profile which inspired the movie to be made with Tom Hanks was the subject of our ‘Heroes’ issue. And the best part about today’s news is that Hanks wants Fred to be understood as a hero of his time—meaning our time, right now.”

Currently in production, “You Are My Friend” is slated for release in October 2019. Rounding out the cast is Welsh actor Matthew Rhys, along with the ever-malleable Chris Cooper.

We look forward to the deep-dive into how Mr. Rogers actively changed people’s lives for the better, and in ways they never could have anticipated.

Read Tom Junod’s article about Mr Rogers via esquire.com.