Many years ago, I remember my mother telling me how obsessed I had been with Mr. Rogers as a kid. Full-on, glued to the screen obsessed. I also remember really loving him (though it was in my very formative early years) and turning to Fred Rogers as a touch point for a long time. He also really influenced my taste in men. I know, weird. But my faves as a kid were Mr. Rogers and Bob Ross, who stood in stark contrast to the louder, brash dudes in my household. Now sweet, soft-spoken dudes are my weakness, including the one I’m dating. But I digress!
The whole point of this zeitgeist is that another pop culture hero, Tom Hanks, will be starring in a Mr. Rogers biopic based on You Are My Friend, an article published in Esquire 20 years ago by his friend and journalist Tom Junod. I read it and immediately starting feeling all the FEELS. This movie is going to kill me. And my entire generation. And all of our parents who watched him along with us.
Even better news? You Are My Friend will be directed by Marielle Heller (female directors FTW!) and written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster. Here’s what Heller had to say about the project:
“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 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.”
It bodes well methinks. This feature-length movie is on top of an upcoming documentary titled, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” It’s playing at Sundance, but most of us will have to wait until June to see it.
Here’s the trailer to get us in the mood. As if we need the impetus!
It’s a time in our lives where we desperately need a role model to just still be good. I just need to keep a couple of heroes from childhood who can be human, of course, but also just generally good. Fred Rogers was committed to children, learning, and above all, love. And when played by another (dear lawd please) great dude like Tom Hanks, it should be a guilt-free viewing in which we can totally revel. Hopefully both of these cinematic accounts of his nature will continue to let us love him.
There’s no release date on You Are My Friend yet, but I’ll be on the look-out. Get your “hankies” ready.
Raise your hand if you were also raised on Rogers and are jonesing for Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers.