Antonio Banderas and Michael Sheen will be in front of the camera opposite Downey, playing Dr. Dolittle’s pirate nemesis Rassouli and Mudfly in the CG hybrid film directed by Stephen Gaghan (Syriana). Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes and Tom Holland will voice some of the animals that Downey’s Dolittle will talk to, the Tracking Board has confirmed.
The movie is an adaptation of Hugh Lofting’s children’s book from the ’20s about a veterinarian who can talk to animals, and it’s being set-up as a possible new franchise for Downey as he finishes up his run as Tony Stark/Iron Man in Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe with Avengers: Infinity War and its 2019 sequel, both directed by the Russo Brothers.
Universal bought the project last year with Downey already on board and quickly attached Gaghan, who was coming off the Matthew McConaughey drama Gold. The original screenplay for Doctor Dolittle was written by Tom Sheppard (Robot Chicken) with Gaghan doing some additional writing.
The plan is to start production later this month in London to make the movie’s April 12, 2019 release date.
Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum will produce via Roth/Kirschenbaum Films, who produced Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent for Disney and Snow White and the Huntsman for Universal, along with Susan Downey for Team Downey, who produced The Judge. This will be Downey’s first non-Marvel role since that Warner Bros-released drama.
Universal Executive Vice President Jon Mone and Creative Executive Lexi Barta will oversee the project for the studio.
Repped by Paradigm, Banderas is playing the main villain in the film following a turn as Picasso on the National Geographic series Genius, as well as a role in Dan Fogelman’s Life Itself, which will be released by Amazon Studios this fall.
Sheen is represented by ICM Partners, Roxane Vacca Mgmt and Sanders Armstrong Caserta, and he recently filmed the pilot for the Amazon Studios’ mini-series based on the Neil Gaiman-Terry Prachett novel Good Omens. Thompson and Fiennes are repped by CAA with Thompson managed by Hamilton Hodell and Fiennes by Dalzell and Beresford. Tom Holland, who already starred with Downey in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and last year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, is represented by WME, Curtis Brown Group and Sloane Offer.
The casting was first reported by Deadline.
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor