Tom Hanks is starring in A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, a biopic of legendary children’s TV host Fred Rogers which is currently in production. The film is set for release this November. On Wednesday, producers released a still photo from the film. It arrived on what would have been Rogers’ 91st birthday.
In the photo, Hanks is wearing Rogers’ trademark red sweater while throwing his shoe in the air in front of him. Another photo was released earlier this year, one which depicted Hanks — as Rogers — meeting journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys). The character of Vogel is based on Tom Junod.
Sony Pictures describes the film as “a timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism.” The narrative tells the story of Junod, a relatively well-known magazine writer, being assigned a profile of Rogers — and overcoming his cynical attitude as a result. Rhys, best known for his lead role on The Americans, is set to play Vogel.
The film, which has a release date of November 22, 2019, is directed by Marielle Heller. Heller made last year’s acclaimed film Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which was adapted from a screenplay by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster. The project is not to be confused with Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a documentary about Rogers that debuted in theaters in 2018, and recently aired on HBO and PBS. That film, directed by Morgan Neville, was surprisingly not nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar.
A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood also stars Chris Cooper, Susan Kelechi Watson of This is Us, Enrico Colantoni, Maryann Plunkett, Tammy Blanchard, and Harpster, the co-screenwriter. The project, when it was first announced, was known as You Are My Friend.
Happy 91st birthday to one of the kindest and gentle souls to ever walk the Earth, Mr. Rogers. A truly wonderful man who understood that being kind to one another is a very important thing that sadly isn't too common in today's world. We miss you, and love you, Mr Rogers ❤️ pic.twitter.com/wwN8WBcDWd— ☠️ŽΔβ€ Ř¥€ŘΔΜŞ☠️ (@ZabeRyerams) March 20, 2019
In 2013, The Black List — the annual list of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood — included two different screenplays related to Fred Rogers, per Deadline. One was called A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, while the other was titled I’m Proud of You.
The latter project was written by Harpster and Fitzerman-Blue, although that script was based not on Junod’s story, but rather a different memoir by a different journalist, Tim Madigan. Madigan had also written about his relationship with Rogers.
Madigan wrote in a blog post in early 2018 that after the original project based on his book collapsed, the same two writers had been hired to instead write a script based on the story of Rogers and Junod. The writer said that he wished the project well, because “our world needs the example of Fred Rogers now more than ever.”