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Two generations of America’s Dads will collide in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a film starring Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers, the beloved host of children’s programming staple Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Here’s a look at everything we know about the film so far.
In January, it was reported that Tom Hanks would star in a forthcoming Mr. Rogers biopic, then titled You Are My Friend. The Diary of a Teenage Girl and Can You Ever Forgive Me? director Marielle Heller helms, based on a screenplay by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster.
The film is inspired by Rogers’ real-life friendship with Tom Junod, who wrote a loving profile of Rogers in the November 1998 issue of Esquire, titled “Can You Say…Hero?” Lloyd (Matthew Rhys), a fictionalized version of Junod, is a cynical journalist who finds his perspective on life changed when he is assigned to write a piece on the beloved children’s television icon (Hanks).
Big Beach Films’ Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf (Loving) produce alongside Youree Henley (The Beguiled). Screenwriters Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster executive produce in addition to Big Beach’s Leah Holzer. Sony’s TriStar Pictures acquired worldwide rights from Big Beach, and has set the film for an October 2019 release.
Producers Turtletaub and Saraf shared the following statement at the time:
Now more than ever, we all need a re-introduction to Fred Rogers’ message of uncompromising love and kindness between all living things. [Marielle] Heller is the perfect visionary filmmaker to bring Noah [Harpster] and Micah [Fitzerman-Blue]’s script to life and because of her vision and this remarkable script, we have the quintessential actor to play Fred Rogers.
In September, Sony Pictures shared a first-look image showing Hanks in costume, wearing Mr. Rogers’ iconic red sweater.
In December, Variety reported that the film, which had previously gone by You Are My Friend, had since received the official title A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
Along with Hanks, who has been attached to the project from the start, The Americans’ Matthew Rhys signed on as co-star in July, as Variety first reported. Rhys plays Lloyd, a fictionalized version of Fred Rogers’ real-life friend Tom Junod. In the film, Lloyd is a cynical journalist who finds his perspective on life transformed when he’s assigned to write a piece on the children’s television icon.
Chris Cooper joined the cast in August, also per Variety, and is playing Rhys’ character’s father. This Is Us star Susan Kelechi joined in September, as Deadline first reported, although that report didn’t specify her role.
In late October, a Deadline report revealed the rest of the film’s cast: Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars), Maryann Plunkett (Blue Valentine), Tammy Blanchard (Into The Woods), Wendy Makkena (the Sister Act films), Sakina Jaffrey (Timeless), Carmen Cusack (Sorry for Your Loss), Noah Harpster (Transparent), and Maddie Corman (Younger).
Colantoni plays Bill Isler, long-time president & CEO of The Fred Rogers Company. Plunkett is Joanne Rogers, Fred’s wife. Blanchard is Lorraine, Lloyd’s sister. Noah Harpster is Lloyd’s brother-in-law, Todd. Makkena plays Dorothy, Lloyd’s father’s girlfriend. Jaffrey’s character is Ellen, Lloyd’s editor. Cusack plays longtime Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood producer Margy. Corman is Lady Aberlin, a character on the show.
Sony’s TriStar Pictures is currently slated to release A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood on Oct. 18, 2019.
Stay tuned for more updates on A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. In the meantime, check out Paste’s review of the 2018 Mister Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? here.