TriStar Pictures has announced they have acquired worldwide rights to You Are My Friend, a biopic of children’s television pioneer Fred Rogers with Academy Award winner Tom Hanks set to star.
The project hails from Big Beach (Little Miss Sunshine, Loving) with Marielle Heller (Diary of a Teenage Girl) set to direct from a screenplay by Micah Fitzerman-Blue & Noah Harpster (Transparent, Beautiful Ruins). Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf of Big Beach will produce alongside Youree Henley (The Beguiled, 20th Century Woman). Leah Holzer of Big Beach will executive produce, along with Fitzerman-Blue and Harpster. The project originated from a true story developed by Fitzerman-Blue and Harpster, first appearing on the Black List in 2013.
You Are My Friend is inspired by a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and award-winning journalist Tom Junod. In the heart-warming story, a cynical journalist begrudgingly accepts an assignment to write a profile piece on the beloved icon and finds his perspective on life transformed.
“This is the perfect alchemy of talent coming together at the perfect time to remind us all of the transformative power of kindness and respect to heal and to unite. We are proud to partner with Marielle, Tom and everyone at Big Beach to bring this inspirational true story to audiences all over the world,” said Hannah Minghella, President of TriStar Pictures.
Turtletaub and Saraf said, “Now more than ever, we all need a re-introduction to Fred Rogers’ message of uncompromising love and kindness between all living things. Mari Heller is the perfect visionary filmmaker to bring Noah and Micah’s script to life and because of her vision and this remarkable script, we have the quintessential actor to play Fred Rogers. ”
Director Marielle Heller said, “I’m thrilled to be making You Are My Friend. 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.”
Hannah Minghella and Shary Shirazi will oversee the project for TriStar Pictures. Production is set to begin in the fall.