Ashley Jensen is the first actor to join the cast of Disney's upcoming live-action Lady and the Tramp remake. The movie will skip theaters and instead premiere exclusively through the Mouse House's as-yet unnamed streaming service, when it launches sometime in Fall 2019.
Based on the 1955 Disney animated classic of the same name (which itself was adapted from Ward Greene's story Happy Dan, The Whistling Dog), Lady and the Tramp will blend live-action actors with CGI animals, much like the Mouse House's other recent live-action re-imaginings of its animated classics have before it. The film is being written by Andrew Bujalski (Computer Chess) and directed by Charlie Bean (The LEGO Ninjago Movie) and is expected to be one of the first Disney Originals made available through the company's streamer. With casting now underway, it's all the more likely that production on the project will begin sooner than later, too.
Deadline reports that Jensen - perhaps best known for her roles on TV shows like Extras, Ugly Betty, and Catastrophe - will voice Jackie in the live-action Lady and the Tramp. The character, as it were, is a gender-swapped take on the no-nonsense Scottish Terrier Jock from the 1955 animated film. In that version of the story, Jock and Trusty the bloodhound lived next door to Lady, the American Cocker Spaniel who is romanced by the eponymous Tramp - a street-smart dog who spends his days living wild and free, when he's not being chased by the local dog-catchers.
Lady and the Tramp is one of two live-action remakes of older Disney animated movies that the Mouse House is actively developing for its impending streaming service launch. The other one is The Sword in the Stone, a new take on Disney's animated young Arthur adventure that director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) may begin shooting as soon as late September in Belfast. Lady and the Tramp is also expected to start filming in September (albeit on sound stages in Atlanta, Georgia), with the intention being for both films to premiere around the same time through Disney's digital service in late 2019.
Seeing as Lady and the Tramp is somewhat lacking when it comes to female characters besides Lady, it's only fitting that a supporting player like Jock would be gender-swapped to make things more inclusive in the remake. Similarly, Disney is reportedly looking to cast people of color in leading roles in the Lady and the Tramp retelling, as part of its efforts to modernize the IP for a 21st century audience. Jensen, for her part, is a welcome addition here and it will be interesting to see who they cast opposite her as Trusty (who makes up one-half of a buddy duo with Jock in the animated film).
We will bring you more details on the Lady and the Tramp remake as they become available.