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SYFY WIRE Pinocchio

No lie! Disney’s live-action Pinocchio film adds Cynthia Erivo & Joseph Gordon-Levitt for iconic roles

By Adam Pockross
Cynthia Ervio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

We’ve known for a while now that Tom Hanks would be bringing his Oscar-worthy chops to the role of Geppetto in Disney’s live-action Pinocchio retelling, as directed by Robert Zemeckis (not to be confused with Matteo Garrone’s Italian retelling or Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion retelling). But it feels like we’ve been dangling on strings ever since, hoping for more signs the movie is still springing to life, much like the eponymous wooden puppet of lore. 

But today, hope springs eternal, with big stars (you know what happens when you wish upon one of those) reportedly joining the feature, which is apparently set to begin production this month. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cynthia Erivo (The Outsider), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper), Keegan-Michael Key (Keanu), Lorraine Bracco (The Sopranos), and Benjamin Evan Ainsworth (Flora and Ulysses, The Haunting of Bly Manor) are boarding the live-action/heavy effects film.

Erivo will reportedly play the Blue Fairy, a character based upon the Fairy with Turquoise Hair in Carlo Collodi’s 1883 Italian source book, The Adventures of Pinocchio. In both the book and the 1940 Walt Disney animated classic film, Pinocchio, the character appears throughout, poetically warning the little wooden boy against impropriety.  

Gordon-Levitt will play the venerable Disney character, Jiminy Cricket. In the film, the Blue Fairy taps the wise-cracking cricket to serve as Pinocchio’s conscience. No word on whether Gordon-Levitt’s Jiminy Cricket will sing the film’s classic tune, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” but the actor has been known to lean into the musical side of things (see him in action along with Miss Piggy below), as has Ervio, who earned a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical in 2016 for her work in The Color Purple (she sings a couple of showstoppers from the musical below) and will be taking on the role of Aretha Franklin in the upcoming Genius series.

The rest of the additions are reportedly going to be of the vocal variety. Eleven-year-old Ainsworth takes the lead as the voice of Pinocchio; Key is voicing Honest John, aka Worthington Foulfellow, the charismatic fox from the film who’s not above swindling the village locals; and Lorraine Bracco is giving voice to a new character, Sofia the Seagull.

According to THR, production on Pinocchio will start in the U.K. later this month. Though we still don’t have a proper debut date, the trade notes that we can expect it to arrive on Disney+, as had previously been suspected. No word about whether that will include a theatrical run as well.