A New Experience: Working as a Background Actor on the Fred Rogers Movie Starring Tom Hanks

I got a call from my friend Joe Negri (Handyman Negri on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood) back in early October. He told me he had given my phone number to the executive producer of “You Are My Friend”, a movie about Fred Rogers that was being filmed in Pittsburgh, starring actor Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers. They wanted someone to be the pianist, Johnny Costa in the background shots.

The Set of “You Are My Friend”

I ended up being part of the background cast, shooting scenes for 6 days at WQED Studios in 1970s – 80s period dress based off of pictures that they acquired of Johnny Costa. It was quite an experience. I never realized how much sitting around and waiting to do things were involved in film production.

On a couple of the days, between takes, Tom Hanks started requesting songs from me while we waited for the cameras and lighting to be reset. Tom was a pleasure to work with and is as nice as he always seemed to be in the movies I had seen him in.

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