Robert Downey Jr. to Play Both Pinocchio and Geppetto in Ben Stiller’s ‘Pinocchio’

Published 2 years ago by , Updated March 3rd, 2014 at 6:55 pm,

Geppetto and Pinocchio Robert Downey Jr. to Play Both Pinocchio and Geppetto in Ben Stillers Pinocchio

Adaptations of works in the public domain can get a little confusing, since no single studio can hold exclusive rights to them and therefore there can be multiple movie versions of the same story in development at the same time. Combine this with the industry’s love of dueling and the end result is situations like the 2012 face-off between Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman (a competition that the latter film won by quite a significant margin).

Another such parallel may soon be occurring with the two separate adaptations of the classic Carlo Collodi children’s novel Pinocchio. Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim) is planning a stop-motion animation of Pinocchio based on Gris Grimly’s illustrated version of the book, though that will have to wait until after del Toro finishes directing his new horror movie Crimson Peak. Tim Burton was also attached to direct an adaptation for Warner Bros., with Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role, but he has since left the project and has (as-yet) unofficially been replaced by Ben Stiller. There is also a third film, titled The Three Misfortunes of Geppetto, which was acquired by Real Steel director Shawn Levy on spec a couple of years ago but has not seen any development since then.

Bleeding Cool has learned a few new details about Stiller’s project, the most interesting of which is that Downey is currently planning to play both Geppetto and Pinocchio, which would probably make for quite an intense shooting and recording schedule. Though the woodcarver is depicted in the original story, and in most adaptations of it, as an elderly man who becomes the father of a wooden son at a late age, Downey’s Geppetto is scripted a little younger, meaning that there probably won’t be much need for the make-up team to artificially age him.

One of the questions that remains is whether Pinocchio will be animated, perhaps using performance capture, or whether he will have a physical body that Downey can interact with even as he provides the voice acting for it. The latter honestly sounds more appealing – after all, there are few movies where it would more appropriate to use puppetry to animate a character.

Robert Downey Jr and Ben Stiller in Tropic Thunder Robert Downey Jr. to Play Both Pinocchio and Geppetto in Ben Stillers Pinocchio

The script, which was originally written by Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies), has undergone rewrites already from Jane Goldman, and wil undergo further changes and polishing before production begins. The most likely target audience is naturally younger children, but there’s no reason that the film can’t be geared to a more general audience in the way that Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are was. Some of the darker and more frightening scenes were already brought to life very effectively in the 1940 Disney film, but sadly that version left out the part where Pinocchio gets bored of hearing about morality, picks up a hammer and squishes his poor cricket friend.

Of the various Pinocchio adaptations in the works, this one seems to have the most amount of traction, so let us know what you think about Downey’s current plans to pull double duty on Pinocchio in the comments.


Pinocchio does not have a release date yet, but we hope to report on further details about the film soon.

Source: Bleeding Cool

Follow H. Shaw-Williams on Twitter @HSW3K
TAGS: Pinocchio
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  2. Im atleast interested and proud of the fact he is trying to challenge himself as an actor

  3. After Tropic Thunder, I have no doubts the man can play more than one very different character. I say this is a pretty cool idea.

    • Dude playing a dude disguised as another dude?

      Hey, Tom Hanks did it in The Polar Express and I only thought he voiced one character until the credits so it could work.

      • It happens all the time, he was funny in tropic thunder but i thought him in an oscar nominee was shocking to me

  4. I’m the dude that’s playing a dude then playing a puppet that’s made by the dude I’m playing.

    • Bravo! That was clever.

    • Like.

  5. Hey Screen Rant can you do a list of the original classic stories that have been made film with the noted changes? I would like to know more about Pinniochio smashing Jimini Cricket

    • Might make for a good feature. 😉 A lot of the source material for kids movies contains some pretty horrifying stuff. Here’s the relevant extract from Pinocchio, anyway:

      “At these last words Pinocchio lost his temper and, seizing a mallet from the bench, threw it at the cricket. Perhaps he did not mean to hit him, but unfortunately the mallet struck him right on the head. The poor cricket had scarcely time to cry ‘Cri-cri-cri”, and there he was, stretched out stiff, and flattened against the wall.”

      • Thanks.

      • Childhood.

  6. Very strange idea especially due to the fact that Stiller is directing and RDJ is starring in it. Hey, the pair worked out brilliantly in Tropic Thunder and I think Stiller is willing to challenge himself as a director and RDJ is willing to challenge himself as an actor. More power to them. Good luck

  7. That picture of two guys laying on top of each other, with the expressions on their faces? naw, that can’t be Pinnochio…or if it is, it isn’t somebody’s nose that is growing in that pic. Think I’ll give it a pass. (Hmmm…and here I thought the “Magic Kingdom” was something whimsical for kids…!).

    • It’s RDJ and Ben Stiller in Tropic Thunder. 😉


    And in the sequel, Pinnochio is menaced by Woody Woodpecker, who has broken through from another dimension and Walter Lantz Productions.

  9. Gepetto is not actually going to be Gepetto just to piss people off……

  10. That would be pretty crazy. And in a good way I think. :)

  11. Looks like an interesting challenge to see… o_O

  12. RDJ shifts from Iron Man to Wood Boy. You could say that he’s regressing, but then again, the softer material is easier on aging joints.

    Seriously, or as seriously as a discussion of Ben Stiller can be…”directed by Ben Stiller” is a concept that I can’t help but have a strange reaction to. Of course, he does have a track record of success.

  13. From Iron man to wood boy.

  14. How about Christopher Lloyd to play Geppetto ? Cause, Robert Downey, Jr looks too old. Someone older like Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Tim Allen, or James Woods.

  15. is there any new news on this movie?