Tom Hanks Transforms Into Mister Rogers In First Image From New Biopic

Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers
Kevin Winter and Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Tom Hanks plays America’s Neighbor, Fred Rogers, in the upcoming biopic about one of the most revered characters in television history. When the announcement was made that Hanks would play the iconic Mr. Rogers, there was a widespread acceptance that the casting could not have been more on point. And based on Tri-Star’s first photo of Hanks in his new role, it seems as if everybody was right.

The movie, which is still untitled, deals with the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood host and his unfailing compassion. His innate ability to let every child feel respected and listened to is what set Rogers apart from other television hosts. Rewire reports that the zip-up cardigan and sneakers were specifically chosen to make the “at-home neighbor” feel a sense of predictability and security.

Generations of American children knew that Mr. Rogers would come home from work, take off his jacket, and put on a cardigan — which he zipped over his shirt and tie. He would then sit on the bench while singing the welcoming song (written by himself) and change into his sneakers. The newly released pic shows Hanks in this simple outfit of the iconic cardigan and sneakers — Rogers’ signature outfit for many decades.

“My mother, for as long as I could remember, made at least one sweater every month. She would give us each a hand-knit sweater every Christmas. Until she died those zipper sweaters that I wore on the ‘Neighborhood’ were all made by my mother.”

Directed by Marielle Heller (The Diary Of A Teenage Girl), the movie is loosely based on the friendship that developed between Rogers and Tom Junod, who was a journalist at the time. IMDb reports that Matthew Rhys has been cast as Junod. According to Yahoo, the film’s departing point is the 1998 Esquire article Junod wrote about Rogers. In the piece — which deals with his own journey against cynicism and struggling with the definition of grace — Junod discovers Rogers’ altruistic nature that drew so many Americans to him.

If there is one genre which Hanks excels at, it’s those roles where he plays larger-than-life figures such as Jim Lovell in Apollo 13, or Ben Bradlee in The Post. Junod captures why Hanks is so suited to play one of the most likable characters to have ever graced our screens.

“The really cool thing about Tom Hanks playing Fred is that Fred and Tom Hanks are similar in a really essential way in that they are gentle people, they are soft-spoken people, but they are powerful people.

I think that Tom Hanks can really bring that aspect of Fred out.”