Before Teletubbies, Blue’s Clues, Barney, and Dora the Explorer, there was Mister Rogers. Multiple generations of American and Canadian children grew up in Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, the educational children’s television series that ran from 1963 to 2001. With his kind-hearted and direct style, Fred McFeely Rogers was an institution when it came to early education and learning. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a Peabody Award, and you can find one of his trademark sweaters hanging in the Smithsonian Institute.
In order to portray an institution, apparently, you need to hire an institution. According to The Hollywood Reporter, an upcoming biopic about Rogers is coming and Tom Hanks has been cast in the lead role.
All due respect to Mister Rogers, but one’s first thought is that his life story, while amazing, isn’t the stuff of shocking twists and turns (unless he was a CIA gun runner in his youth and we never knew). Turns out that the film, which will be directed by Diary of a Teenage Girl’s Marielle Heller, focuses on a real-life friendship between Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. “The cynical journalist begrudgingly accepts an assignment to write a profile piece on the beloved icon and finds his perspective on life transformed.”
It is finally happening, and in the best of ways: a movie, very loosely based on the article I wrote for @Esquire 20 years ago, with Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers, two innovative screenwriters from "Transparency" scripting, and Marielle Heller directing. Well-timed, for this moment. https://t.co/JWsOCmL6XB
— Tom Junod (@TomJunod) January 29, 2018
Junod, who has worked for Esquire, GQ, and Sports Illustrated, is currently a writer for ESPN. It hasn’t been announced who will play him in the film, though a quick glance showcases a strong resemblance to Joaquin Phoenix if you ask us.
The article that the film is based on, which was originally published in the November 1998 issue of Esquire, is available online here.
The film is set to shoot in September. No word on release dates for now.