Two-time Oscar-winner and all-around good guy Tom Hanks will star in You Are My Friend, the upcoming Fred Rogers biopic from TriStar Pictures. Diary of a Teenage Girl director Marielle Heller is attached to direct the film, which was written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster. The details of the film haven’t totally come into focus, but it is apparently based on the real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod, whose life was changed forever when he reluctantly agreed to do a profile on Rogers for Esquire in 1998. There is currently no clear timeline on the film’s release as it is in the early stages of development.
Some people may point out that while Tom Hanks is a great and an intensely likable human, he doesn’t really resemble Fred Rogers. These naysayers may be technically right, but does that really matter? Tom Hanks has a longstanding history of playing historical figures — Ben Bradlee, Richard Phillips, Jim Lovell, Charlie Wilson — in such a way that the spirit of the performance trumps the physicality. And while he may not be the spitting image of Mr. Rogers, there is no one more qualified to embody the spirit of the impossibly kind and caring host of the most beloved kids shows of all time than a man who always gets the benefit of the doubt from the audience.
This won’t be the first time Hanks has played an iconic figure in the world of children’s entertainment, as he was previously cast as Walt Disney in the 2013 film Saving Mr. Banks. Hanks received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Disney. Critics focused on his nuanced and energetic performance. And while Hanks undoubtedly has some big Sperrys to fill as Rogers, we’re confident he’s more than up to the task.