Robert Downey Jr. to Star as ‘Doctor Dolittle’ in New Film

Robert Downey Jr. Doctor Dolittle
Chelsea Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Robert Downey Jr. will star in the movie “The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle,” based on the classic character who can talk to animals, for Universal Pictures.

Stephen Gaghan, who most recently directed Matthew McConaughey’s “Gold,” will helm the film from his own screenplay. Tom Shepherd wrote an earlier draft.

The studio, which acquired the project following a heated bidding war, has set up “The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle” with producers Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum through their Roth/Kirschenbaum Films, alongside Susan Downey for Team Downey.


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British author Hugh Lofting created the Doctor Dolittle character in the 1920s series of children’s books, in which a Victorian-era physician opts to treat animals instead of humans because he’s able to speak with them.

Lofting’s character was portrayed by Rex Harrison in the 1967 musical “Doctor Dolittle,” which won Oscars for best original song and best visual effects. Eddie Murphy starred in the 1998 film “Doctor Dolittle” and the 2001 sequel, which cumulatively grossed more than $470 million at the worldwide box office.


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Downey has starred in the Iron Man, Avengers, and Sherlock Holmes franchises, along with “Tropic Thunder” and “The Judge.” He’ll be seen next in “Spider-Man: Homecoming” as Iron Man.

Gaghan won a best screenplay Academy Award for “Traffic,” and wrote and directed “Syriana.” He also nabbed an Emmy Award for an episode of “NYDP Blue.”

Roth/Kirschenbaum Films’ credits include “Alice in Wonderland,” “Snow White and the Huntsman,” and “Maleficent.” Susan Downey’s credits include the Sherlock Holmes franchise, “The Judge,” and “The Brave One.”

CAA packaged the deal and represents Gaghan, Downey, and Roth/Kirschenbaum. Additionally, Gaghan and Downey are repped by Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush & Kaller; and Roth/Kirschenbaum by Ziffren Brittenham. Shepherd is represented by WME, Think Tank management, and Jackoway/Tyerman.

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  1. orly silva says:

    As main actor Robert downey Jr. will undoubtedly be a great movie that will arouse interest in all fans

  2. Sam says:

    Let others actors do roles like this besides Johnny Depp. I like Depp but even he needs a break.

  3. Julius says:

    This might be fantastic.

  4. Randy says:

    (sigh) A talking animals film?….Is it time for that hand to be played in his career already? Dammit.

  5. Oh Boy says:

    Downey is too damn risk averse. He’ll be the third actor to play the role of Doolittle. He’s still young and vital, shame to see such safe choices ruling his career. Especially when you look at the chances every other actor from the Avengers universe is making.

  6. cadavra says:

    Hopefully the third attempt will be the charm.

  7. Truth Teller 2 says:

    He is a one trick pony now. Every character he plays is the wise cracking Tony Stark character, just in different time periods.

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