Hold on to your cardigans, neighbors: Tom Hanks is going to be playing Mister Rogers in an upcoming biopic about his friendship with journalist Tim Junod.
Everyone’s favorite gentle, charismatic, and empathic leading man is set to play America’s most iconic, gentle, and empathic children’s TV host, according to news announcement from Big Beach and TriStar pictures yesterday.
A press release from the production companies says that the film, titled You Are My Friend, “is inspired by a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and award-winning journalist Tom Junod. In the heartwarming 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 The Onion might think the casting is punchline-worthy — a recent News in Photos piece reads “Tom Hanks Vows He Won’t Stop Until He’s Played Every Last American” — we are so here for it, and really can’t think of any one else (save Hanks’s son, Colin, or perhaps Sam Waterston) who would be embraced by the public and up to the tricky task of portraying such a beloved real-life human.
Director Marielle Heller (Diary of a Teenage Girl) told Variety yesterday:
“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.”
In addition to being a soul-balm for this age of anxiety, here’s hoping all the nostalgic mid-century sets of the OG Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year) and Fred Rogers’ own hand-knit-by-mom cardigans make the cut.
Production on the film is set to begin in September, though a projected release date has not yet been announced.