Tom Hanks is known as Hollywood's nice guy, so it's fitting that he's playing legendary children's TV show host Fred Rogers in upcoming film "You Are My Friend," set for release in October 2019. Sony Pictures released its first look at Hanks in costume as everyone's favorite neighbor.
Earlier this year, filmmaker Marielle Heller emphasized that the film is not a biopic about Rogers. Instead, it's a movie that follows a reporter whose life changes after he meets Rogers, an ordained minister who hosted "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," which ran from 1968 to 2001.
In the first look, Hanks sports silver hair, a red cardigan, blue sneakers and a tie. Rogers was known for his many cardigans on the show.
"It's a story for our times, a story about kindness and family connection and trying to tap into our better self. God knows we need that right now!" Heller told Entertainment Weekly. "In the research for the movie, the writers found that more people than they could possibly count credited Mr. Rogers with changing their lives…. [It's about] one man who's in a critical point in his life — becoming a new father, having issues with his own father — and meeting Mr. Rogers to write a piece about him, thinking it's going to be a bit of a puff piece, but it ends up changing his entire life."
A recent documentary about Rogers brought "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" and the TV host back to the national discourse 15 years after his death from stomach cancer in 2003. "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" explored Rogers' life and career. Filmmaker Morgan Neville said of Rogers, "I think what he was trying to do is teach us how to be human. This new medium was coming, television. He recognized something from the moment he saw it, that many generations of children were going to be raised by this thing, and that somebody had to use that as a tool to help children."
"Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" premiered on PBS in February 1968, when the civil rights movement was in full swing and tensions following desegregation were high. Rogers was known for subtly handling desegregation, President John F. Kennedy's assassination and the Vietnam War, among other controversial topics, on his show. He was also known for celebrating diversity on his show, which was groundbreaking at the time.