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Entertainment Weekly

Movies

Tom Hanks to star as Mister Rogers in You Are My Friend

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It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Tom Hanks has signed on to star as Mister Rogers in You Are My Friend, a drama about the children’s television pioneer.

The movie is based on the relationship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod, who got to know the star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood while writing a profile of him for Esquire magazine in 1998.

TriStar Pictures, which announced the movie Monday, describes it as a heart-warmer in which “a cynical journalist begrudgingly accepts an assignment to write a profile piece on the beloved icon and finds his perspective on life transformed.”

Hannah Minghella, President of TriStar Pictures, said the story aims “to remind us all of the transformative power of kindness and respect to heal and to unite.”

Diary of a Teenage Girl filmmaker Marielle Heller will direct from a screenplay by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster who both worked on Amazon’s Transparent. The company Big Beach will produce the film, but a release date has not yet been set.

“The script knocked me out with its message of kindness and its exploration of the human spirit,” Heller said. “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.”

RELATED: Remembering Mr. Rogers, a true-life ‘helper’ when the world still needs one

Rogers died at age 74 in 2003, but the countless television neighbors who grew up with him have kept his lessons alive for new generations of kids.

The animated Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood brings back many of Mister Rogers’ lessons and characters from the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, and a documentary about Rogers, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, just debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and will be released this summer by Focus Features.

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