The fictionalized re-telling of a Fred Rogers' later life and work is coming closer, and on Wednesday fans got their first peek. It was an image of Hanks in costume, wearing pleated khakis and a red cardigan over a white shirt and a patterned tie. He appeared to be in the middle of one of Rogers' iconic shoe changes, as he tossed a loafer between his two hands.
The costume team behind Hanks even nailed Rogers' perfect gray coiffed hair, while the actor embodied him through a friendly smile. At 62, Hanks will be playing an older Rogers, as the film is set later in his life.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is based on a 2003 article written by journalist Tom Junod. Junod was jaded about Rogers and his work when they met, but the children's TV host worked his magic, and the two had a strong friendship over the years.
Junod will be played by Matthew Rhys. In the story, Junod was assigned to write a profile of Rogers by his magazine editor. He carried a lot of baggage into the interview process, skeptical of Rogers' on-screen persona. Over time, however, he comes to realize that Rogers actually practices what he preaches.
The movie will be directed by Marielle Heller, known for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, among other works. Last March, she clarified points about the film in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Heller explained that this will not be a true biopic of Fred Rogers.
"[This] movie is… not a biopic," she said. "I disliked that when it got announced it was characterized as such. It's really not. It's a movie that's largely focused on a reporter and [Mr. Rogers'] relationship to his life, and how [the reporter's] whole world changes when coming in contact with Fred Rogers."
This will be Mr. Rogers' second big stint in theaters, as last year's documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor? put up huge numbers at the box office. The movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival but quickly found its way into the mainstream. Fans were furious when the movie was passed over at the Oscars, but perhaps Hanks, Heller and Rhys can make amends for that.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is due in theaters Nov. 22.