Disney has announced the start of filming on The One and Only Ivan, a CG/live-action adaptation of the children's book by Katherine Applegate, along with a cast list that includes Danny DeVito and Helen Mirren. The film is being directed by Thea Sharrock (Me Before You), and produced by Angelina Jolie, who is also part of the voice cast.
Published in 2012, The One and Only Ivan tells the story of a silverback gorilla who lives with other animals in a shopping mall. The arrival of a baby elephant called Ruby opens Ivan's eyes to the poor conditions that the animals are living in at the Big Top Mall, and the possibility that there might be a better life for them. In order to ensure that Ruby doesn't spend the rest of her life being abused and forced to do tricks for customers, Ivan starts formulating a plan to get himself, Ruby, and all the other animals rescued by a zoo.
Per Disney, production has now begun on The One and Only Ivan at Pinewood Studios in London. The live-action cast includes Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Ramon Rodriguez (Iron Fist), Indira Varma (Game of Thrones), Eleanor Matsuura (Wonder Woman) and Ariana Greenblatt (who played Young Gamora in Avengers: Infinity War). DeVito and Mirren join a voice cast that also includes Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri) and Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project).
Disney's press release didn't include character details, but we can make a few guesses at who's playing who. Prince is almost certainly the voice of Ruby, while Rockwell is likely voicing Ivan, and either Jolie or Mirren could be voicing Stella, a senior elephant who lives at the zoo. On the live-action side of things, Greenblatt is likely playing Julia, daughter of the mall's custodian, who helps Ivan in his search for a better life.
The One and Only Ivan was inspired by the true story of Ivan, a gorilla who lived in a shopping mall in Tacoma, Washington for 27 years after being captured as a youngster in Africa and sold in the US by wildlife traders. In the 1990s Ivan's situation attracted public attention, and there was a campaign to have him freed from the mall and cared for in a zoo. The campaign proved successful in 1995, and Ivan was moved to Zoo Atlanta, where he lived for more than 18 years before passing away in 2012 at the age of 50.