Fred the Tree — the Florida Keys’ beloved, thriving and resolute “celebri-tree” that grows improbably on the historic Old Seven Mile Bridge — is soon to debut as a movie star.

Fred the Tree Florida Keys sunset

Fred and his companion tree, dubbed “Randi,” are a welcome sight to drivers navigating the Florida Keys Overseas Highway that parallels the old bridge. (Photo courtesy of Howard Livingston)

Fred the Tree is featured at the beginning of the new remake of “Road House” when actor Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays main character Elwood, arrives in the Florida Keys on a Greyhound bus. Elwood is portrayed as a former UFC middleweight fighter hired to clean up a roadhouse in the island chain.

The original 1989 action cult classic starred Patrick Swayze as Dalton, hired as a bouncer in a honkytonk bar, who protects a small town in rural Missouri from a corrupt businessman.

The world premiere of the “Road House” remake is set for March 8 at the South by Southwest film conference in Austin, Texas, as the event’s opening-night movie. It’s scheduled to begin streaming March 21 in the U.S. on Prime Video by Amazon MGM Studios. (Most of the movie, however, is actually filmed in the Dominican Republic.)

The Keys’ iconic Fred is a salt-sprayed Casuarina, or Australian pine tree. He’s growing out of the roadbed of the historic Old Seven Mile Bridge, completed in the early 1900s as part of the famed Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad.

Now eroded and no longer used, the span parallels the newer bridge between Marathon and the Lower Keys that’s traveled by drivers today.

Fred the Tree Florida Keys book cover

As well as a catchy song by Keys musician Howard Livingston, Fred inspired a children’s book written and illustrated by Lee Guest.

Fred’s name is an acronym reputedly made up years ago, with the letters F-R-E-D culled from “For Real Enjoyment Driving,” according to Keys residents who help tend to Fred.

Cited by name in the “Road House” remake script as “a lonely tree sitting out in the middle of a bridge,” Fred is considered a metaphor for main character Elwood’s solitary personality.

Now standing some 50 feet tall, Fred may have originally sprouted from the droppings of a passing bird. Despite the salt-sprayed, sun-seared old bridge’s lack of tree-friendly soil, he continues to thrive against all odds — just as many of the Keys’ fiercely independent and determined residents do.

He even has a smaller 20-foot-tall companion, named “Randi” by locals to honor a Fred friend who died of cancer.

Fred has an avid fan base and his own Facebook page with 34,000 followers, maintained by a Keys resident — plus a clothing line (!) at Bayshore Clothing in Marathon. According to local lore, the venerable tree has even been blessed by the Pope.

Access to Fred’s section of the bridge called “Old 7” is prohibited due to safety concerns. However, since December 2008, a merry band of some 35 local “elves” has somehow made it onto the dilapidated span during the holiday season to raise a giant star and decorate Fred with lights and artistic ornaments — and surround him with two large white angels and a Menorah brought from Key West.

Keys-style Christmas tree

Each December Fred, shown here from the water below, is decorated with lights to become a Keys-style symbol of the holiday season.

The elves, who remain anonymous, unofficially notify authorities ahead of the annual decorating festivities. Once the holiday season is over, they quietly remove the lights and ornaments.

As well as being decorated for the festive season, Fred has been memorialized in a children’s book by author and illustrator Leigh Guest. The book chronicles the tale of “the old tree who is loved by all, but is left to face life’s most challenging events alone.”

Fred is also the subject of joyful new song by Lower Keys musician Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 Band.

Livingston, who recently released a CD titled “House Down by the Sea,” describes Fred as “our symbol of hope and determination.”

Penned and performed by Livingston, the song features a catchy refrain: “Fred the Tree, Fred the Tree. Lives on a bridge, above the sea. Against all odds, he grows and grows. How he does it, nobody knows.”

Today Fred remains stalwart, growing ever taller as he sways and nods to those discovering or returning to the Florida Keys — a living symbol of the resilient subtropical island chain.