The full cast has been assembled for Robert Downey Jr.'s The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, which includes Downey's fellow Spider-Man: Homecoming star Tom Holland. The story about a veterinarian who can communicate with animals has long been a favorite in Hollywood, from the legendary performance by Rex Harrison 50 years ago in the the classic movie musical Doctor Dolittle, to a big screen update of the same name starring Eddie Murphy in 1998.
Apparently one film or the other, or the original Doctor Dolittle books, inspired Downey enough to revive the character for Universal Pictures, which the studio put into motion last March. Helmed by Oscar-winning Traffic screenwriter-turned-director Stephen Gaghan, details for the new Doctor Dolittle have been largely kept under wraps, that is, until Tuesday when the remainder of Downey's co-stars for the film were revealed.
According to Deadline, Antonio Banderas and Michael Sheen have been cast as the live-action leads for The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, while Holland, Emma Thompson and Ralph Fiennes have joined the project to voice three of the film's talking animals. In addition to directing, Gaghan re-wrote Tom Sheppard's draft of the script. Details remain scant on just what characters the live-action and voice actors would be playing apart from Banderas, who will reportedly be Dolittle's nemesis. The film also stars Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde and Annette Bening in unspecified roles.
It's unclear what time period the film will be set in, since the 1967 original was set in Victorian-era England and the Murphy film was set in modern day. Chances are it will take a cue from the Harrison film, since Deadline noted that the film is "an adaptation of the 1920’s children’s books by Hugh Lofting." In the film's official description, which came with the announcement that the film's release was being moved from its originally scheduled May 2019 release to April of that year, Universal only promised "a sweeping adventure." Hopefully for fans of Lofting's work, that sweeping adventure will take place in a lush setting in the Victorian era, too.
By all indications, The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle is not going to be a one-and-done project for the title player. In fact, Deadline called the The Voyage the "launch a new franchise for Downey as he transitions from his signature role as Iron Man," presumably meaning that the two-time Oscar nominee will be retiring Tony Stark and his superhero alter-ego after Avengers 4. If that's indeed the case, it is bound to be a sad development for Avengers and Iron Man fans, as Downey appears to finally be ready to take on movie projects of a different animal – or more specifically in this case, talking animals.
- The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle (2020) release date: Jan 17, 2020