It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood for Tom Hanks.
TriStar Pictures released Thursday the first official image of Hanks in character as Mister Rogers, teasing the two-time Oscar-winning actor’s transformation into the popular television personality via the icon’s signature look: a red sweater, taupe trousers, and a pair of blue plimsoll shoes.
Billed as a “timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism,” the untitled film — developed under the name You Are My Friend — is currently shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is directed by Can You Ever Forgive Me? and The Diary of a Teenage Girl helmer Marielle Heller. Heller previously told EW the film isn’t a straightforward Fred Rogers biopic, but rather a chronicle of the real-life friendship that developed between the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood host and journalist Tom Junod (Matthew Rhys), who famously formed an emotional bond with Rogers while profiling him for Esquire magazine in 1998.
“I disliked that when it got announced it was characterized as [a biopic],” the filmmaker said. “It’s really not. It’s a movie that’s largely focused on a reporter and [Mr. Rogers’] relationship to his life, and how [the reporter’s] whole world changes when coming in contact with Fred Rogers.”
“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 continued. “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.”
The film, based on a screenplay written by Emmy-nominated Transparent producers Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, opens in theaters nationwide on Oct. 18, 2019. See the first look photo of Hanks as Rogers above.