The filmmakers behind Detective Pikachu have admitted that they tested Danny DeVito's voice for Pikachu early on in the movie's development. While Pokémon fever largely peaked in the U.S. in the late 1990s and early '00s, it enjoyed a resurgence in popularity three years ago thanks to the augmented reality game Pokémon GO. Looking to tap into the fresh demand for all things Poke-related, Legendary Pictures got the ball rolling on a live-action/CGI film adaptation shortly after. The movie in question, Detective Pikachu, went into production last year and is shaping up to be one of 2019's more unusual (in a good way) blockbusters, when it arrives this May.
Detective Pikachu itself is technically an adaptation of the Nintendo 3DS spinoff game that released in Japan in 2016, before it went worldwide last year. The original game portrayed its titular character as something of an old grouchy man trapped in an adorable Pokémon's body, complete with a Japanese voice actor who delivered Pikachu's lines in a fairly rough, yet high-energy fashion. It wasn't long before more and more fans started to point out that DeVito of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia fame (among too many other TV shows and movies to list here) would be the perfect choice for the character's voice in an english-language film. Indeed, some went so far as to campaign online for Legendary and Warner Bros. to cast DeVito in their movie adaptation.
As those reading this are no doubt aware, that didn't happen and Ryan Reynolds later signed on to voice Detective Pikachu's namesake, instead. Nevertheless, it's come to light that the movie's creatives did test DeVito's voice for the character, early on in pre-production. Here's what the film's VFX producer Greg Baxter told Game Informer, on the subject.
“It was really very funny, so I couldn’t speak to all the reasons why it wasn’t Danny DeVito cast. I love Danny and some point maybe after the movie comes about, we can share those early tests. It’s absolutely hilarious.”
While it seemed to take most people a moment to adjust to Reynolds' voice coming out of Pikachu in the Detective Pikachu trailers, an increasing number of fans now appear to agree that he was an inspired pick for the role. The film's version of the character may not have his video game counterpart's gruff voice, but he's certainly just as energetic and definitely shares his need for (addiction to?) coffee. Reynolds is also a bigger draw at the box office than DeVito these days (even when he's not playing Deadpool), so there's a good chance that this was another factor in the decision to cast him. He was even included on a Detective Pikachu voice actor wishlist early on during the film's development, along with similarly big names like Dwayne Johnson and Hugh Jackman.
Still, Reynolds is starting to feel more and more like appropriate casting for Detective Pikachu, so it all worked out in the end. Similarly, by not signing on DeVito, the film's producers freed the actor up to go work on several other 2019 releases instead, including this month's Dumbo remake, Disney's The One and Only Ivan adaptation, and this December's Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle sequel. Detective Pikachu producer Cale Boyter also informed GI that Reynolds' casting will make more sense once everyone learns "where [the movie's] story goes and how it evolves", which is an intriguing tease in and of itself.
Source: Game Informer
- Detective Pikachu (2019) release date: May 10, 2019