UPDATED: Emmy-winning sound mixer James Emswiller died on Friday after a fall from a two-story building during the filming of the Mr. Rogers biopic “You Are My Friend,” authorities told the Associated Press. He was 61.
Police told local news station WPXI on Thursday night that Emswiller, who is from the Pittsburgh area, was taking a smoke break on a balcony in between filming scenes when bystanders heard a noise and discovered he had fallen.
He was taken to UPMC Mercy hospital near Mt. Lebanon, Pa., in serious condition, but his status worsened after arriving.
Filming has halted while the police investigate.
“This is a devastating tragedy and the studio is investigating the matter,” Sony said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Jim’s loved ones, friends, and colleagues.”
Emswiller, who won an Emmy in 2015 for outstanding sound mixing for a limited series or a movie for his work on Queen Latifah’s “Bessie,” has almost 80 credits to his name. He’s worked as a sound mixer on such films as “The Avengers,” “Jack Reacher,” “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Foxcatcher,” “Out of the Furnace,” and “Concussion.” He also worked on the upcoming Cate Blanchett movie “Where’d You Go, Bernadette.”
Tom Hanks stars as Fred Rogers in the biopic, with Matthew Rhys co-starring as a journalist who became friends with Rogers. Chris Cooper will also appear in the film as Rhys’ character’s father. “Diary of a Teenage Girl” director Marielle Heller is helming the movie from a script by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster.
The film is inspired by a real-life friendship between Rogers and award-winning journalist Tom Junod (Rhys). In the story, a cynical journalist begrudgingly accepts an assignment to write a profile piece on the beloved icon and finds his perspective on life transformed.
“You Are My Friend,” from Sony, is slated for release on Oct. 18, 2019.