Monday, January 29, 2018

Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers? Count Me In!

Obviously, the big news from today is the announcement that Tom Hanks will play the part of Fred Rogers in the long-time-coming biopic, You Are My Friend. For the life of me, I didn't see this writing on the wall, but as a longtime fan of Tom Hanks, this announcement was immediately intriguing.

Reading the fan response, however, this casting choice has been made to mixed reviews.

"What about Jim Parsons?" seems to be the most common argument of contention...but was that ever anything more than a rumor when talk of a biopic first hit the news a few years ago? Sure, from a visible perspective, Parsons could easily slip on the sneakers and portray a convincing Mister Rogers. I even chatted about this with a few pals on Episode 020 of the Neighborhood Archive podcast back in 2013.

But check out the fine print.

This movie doesn't seem to be a simple biographical account of Fred Rogers and his life. According to Tom Junod, the film is to be "loosely based on the article [he] wrote for Esquire 20 years ago."

His article was based on interactions with Fred at a time most would recognize as the Neighborhood's later years. With this in mind, a mid-40s Jim Parsons doesn't seem right to fill the role of a man in his late 60s; certainly not as well as a versatile actor like Tom Hanks -- a man currently close to Fred's age at that time.

Keep in mind, it doesn't seem that this film is intended to be a simple biography but rather the story of a relationship. While I'm guessing there will be plenty of flashbacks to Fred's younger years, the focal time period of this film appears to be the later years of Fred's life.

If that's the case, I'm 100% on board with the casting of Tom Hanks -- a man who has never done anything but fully immerse himself in every role he's been given.

Consider me intrigued.


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