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14970103713_7c6915ddfa_bTom Hanks will play the role of Mr. Rogers in the upcoming biopic “You Are My Friend.” The film was inspired by the real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and the award-winning journalist, Tom Junod. The two meet when the cynical journalist begrudgingly accepts an assignment to write a piece about Mr. Rogers, and Junod finds his perspective on life completely transformed.

The script was written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, and Marielle Heller is taking the reins as the film’s director. “I’m thrilled to be making ‘You Are My Friend,’” said Heller. “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 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.

TriStar Pictures landed the distribution rights to “You Are My Friend,” and TriStar President Hannah Mingella is as excited about the film as Heller. “This is the perfect alchemy of talent coming together at the perfect time to remind us all of the transformative power of kindness and respect to heal and to unite. We are proud to partner with Marielle, Tom and everyone at Big Beach to bring this inspirational true story to the world.”

Despite the excitement surrounding the film’s green light, there is not yet an official release date for “You Are My Friend.” This is likely in part due to Hanks’ filming schedule. He is planning to shoot “Greyhound” this year, a World War II drama. Hanks is also set to star in “Bios,” a science fiction story that takes place on a post-apocalyptic earth.

Hanks has big shoes to fill as Mr. Rogers, but the actor is no stranger to playing the roles of real life people.  Hanks played Captain Richard Phillips in the 2013 movie “Captain Phillips” which told the story of the hijacking of the MV Maersk Alabama. Hanks also took on the role of the hero Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III in Clint Eastwood’s 2016 film “Sully.” Sullenberger was the pilot responsible for the impossible water landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in January of 2009. Despite the danger and difficulty of the landing, all the passengers and crew survived. This event came to be deemed the “Miracle on the Hudson.”

Production for “You Are My Friend” is set to begin in the fall, and producers Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf think the film comes at the perfect moment. “Now more than ever, we all need a re-introduction to Fred Rogers’ message of uncompromising love and kindness between all things. Mari Heller is the perfect visionary filmmaker to bring Noah and Micah’s script to life and…we have the quintessential actor to play Fred Rogers.”

One can only hope that Hanks is ready to tackle playing the role of yet another real life role model.

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