Crew member dies after fall on set of Tom Hanks' Mister Rogers movie
A crew member working on the Pittsburgh area set of Tom Hanks’ untitled Mister Rogers movie died Thursday after suffering an apparent medical emergency and falling two stories off a balcony.
Per a Friday report from the Associated Press, James Emswiller, a 61-year-old Emmy-winning member of the sound production team, fell over a brick wall on a two-story balcony at an apartment building during a break in filming at approximately 7:30 p.m. ET. He later died at a local hospital.
Local authorities did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment, though Sony Pictures and TriStar Pictures issued a statement regarding Emswiller’s death.
“This is a devastating tragedy and the studio is investigating the matter,” it reads. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Jim’s loved ones, friends, and colleagues.”
Emswiller, a 30-year industry veteran, has worked on several high profile projects — many of which filmed in and around Pittsburgh. His credits include The Avengers, Jack Reacher, Out of the Furnace, The Fault in Our Stars, and Foxcatcher.
The Marielle Heller-directed film — currently without a name but previously developed under the title You Are My Friend — was shooting a scene in the Pittsburgh suburb of Mt. Lebanon, just south of the city.
The AP additionally noted Hanks, who stars in the project as Fred Rogers, was on site at the time of the incident.
Heller’s film revolves around journalist Tom Junod (Matthew Rhys), who famously formed an emotional bond with the television icon while profiling him for Esquire magazine in 1998.
“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 previously told EW of the movie. “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.”
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