The new documentary celebrating the origins of the beloved Peanuts characters and their creator, Charles M. Schulz, Who Are You, Charlie Brown?, is now streaming on Apple TV+ but the film doesn’t just give viewers insight into the history of the characters and their creator. The documentary also features a new animated Charlie Brown adventure as the iconic character sets out to answer the titular question for himself. It’s a charming way to tell the story and for the film’s director Michael Bonfiglio, it was the only way to tell the story.
Bonfiglio recently told ComicBook.com that the story of Peanuts and Schulz are “one and the same” and that the documentary offered an opportunity to tell a new Charlie Brown story as part of the bigger picture.
“We wanted to tell the story of the creator and his creations and really, when you’re talking about Charles Schulz, the two are one and the same,” Bonfiglio said. “So, we thought it would be an exciting opportunity to tell a new Charlie Brown story that could dovetail with Schulz’s story. Because, first of all, we have the incredible talents of the WildBrain Animation Studio and so with all the new work that they’re doing for Apple TV+ we knew that having them as collaborators, we could really make a beautiful animated portion of the documentary. So yeah, we wanted to bring a new Charlie Brown story that felt in the spirit of classic Peanuts while simultaneously telling a bit of the story of Schulz.”
Who Are You, Charlie Brown? is produced by Imagine Documentaries and WildBrain with Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Sara Bernstein and Justin Wilks of Imagine, Josh Scherba, Anne Loi and Stephanie Betts of WildBrain, Craig Schulz and Paige Braddock of Peanuts, and Michael Bongiflio executive producing. Bonfiglio also writes and directs the special while Imagine Documentaries’ Meredith Kaulfers serves as co-executive producer and Marcella Steingart serves as producer and writer.
The special is described as “honoring the ‘everyman’ creator, Charles “Sparky” Schulz, Who Are You, Charlie Brown? celebrates the significance and global multi-generational popularity of the comic strip and its timeless artistry and design to profile the man whose simple characters would touch the lives of millions through the decades and become beloved cultural icons. Featuring interviews with Jean Schulz, the widow of Charles Schulz, along with Drew Barrymore, Al Roker, Kevin Smith, Billie Jean King, Paul Feig, Ira Glass, Noah Schnapp, Miya Cech, Keith L. Williams, Chip Kidd, Lynn Johnston, Robb Armstrong.
Written and illustrated by Schulz, Peanuts ran from October 2, 1950, to February 13, 2000, and continues in reprints. The final new Peanuts comic strip was published one day after Schulz’s death on February 12, 2000, of colon cancer. The comic strip inspired multiple TV specials including A Charlie Brown Christmas and has been adapted into films and theatrical performances as well.
Who Are You, Charlie Brown? is now streaming on Apple TV+.