Tony Stark meet Doctor Dolittle. Reports came in on Monday revealing Robert Downey Jr. looks primed to headline The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle. The character – already the focus of several movies dating back to the 1960s – is based on Hugh Lofting’s book series (The Story of Doctor Dolittle, The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle and Doctor Dolittle’s Circus) from the 1920s. They centered on a physician to inhabited and cared for animals and insisted he could communicate with them.
The latest film venture is coming together with the participation of Stephen Gaghan (Oscar-winning scribe of Steven Soderbergh’s 2000 gritty drug war feature Traffic) and producers Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum. Gaghan, in a departure considering his past work that includes Syriana and the recent Matthew McConaughey vehicle Gold, will direct and write the film; Tom Shepherd wrote an earlier version of the screenplay. Universal Pictures quickly picked up the title.
For Downey Jr., he follows in the footsteps of Rex Harrison and Eddie Murphy. Oscar-winning acting legend Harrison lead the 1967 Fox feature Doctor Dolittle, a musical directed by Richard Fleischer and written by Leslie Bricusse. The film was not very well reviewed at the time and hasn’t aged particularly well, but the marketing wizards at the time were able to secure a bounty of Oscar nominations for the film, including a Best Picture nod. The film ended up winning Oscars for Best Visual Effects and the Best Song, “Talk to the Animals.” In 1998, Eddie Murphy launched a new Doctor Dolittle – another Fox title. The film was a success and launched several sequels, though only the first two were released in theaters and featured Murphy.
Downey Jr. last appeared on screen in Captain America: Civil War in his signature Tony Stark role. He continues Marvel duty with this year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming and next year’s Avengers: Infinity War. The 2-time Oscar nominated performer is also rumored to headline a third Sherlock Holmes feature and recently committed to to portray another eccentric doctor – the real-life John Brinkley – in an upcoming bio for director Richard Linklater.