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Credit: Universal Pictures

Robert Downey Jr. chats with animals, sets sail in first trailer for 'Dolittle'

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Oct 13, 2019

In his first role post-Avengers: Endgame, Robert Downey Jr. has the ability to talk to animals as the famous Doctor John Dolittle. After much buzz around Universal's adaptation of the Hugh Lofting-created character, we now have the first trailer for Dolittle, a fantasy adventure film from director and co-writer Stephen Gaghan (Syriana, Gold).

Originally titled "The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle," the project follows the eponymous doctor as he hermits himself away after the death of his wife. He eventually hits the high seas in search of a cure for the young queen (Jessie Buckley), who has fallen gravely ill. Aiding John on his quest for a mythical island is his apprentice (Harry Collett) and a menagerie of animals voiced by major A-listers like Tom Holland (Jip, a dog), John Cena (Yoshi, a polar bear), Marion Cotillard (Toto, a fox), Octavia Spencer (Dab-Dab, a duck), and so many others.

The rest of the humans in the film are played by Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Ralph Ineson, and Kasia Smutniak.

Watch the first trailer below:

As for the rest of the animals seen in the flick, you won't believe who else Gaghan got to round out his furry, feathered, and scaly supporting cast: Carmen Ejogo (Regine, a lioness), Ralph Fiennes (Barry, a tiger), Selena Gomez (Betsy, a giraffe), Rami Malek (Chee-Chee, a gorilla), Kumail Nanjiani (Plimpton, an ostrich), Craig Robinson (Fleming, a mouse), and Emma Thompson (Polynesia, a parrot). Frances de la Tour (Enola Holmes) is also part of the impressive ensemble, but since she's currently credited with the mysterious title of "Ginko-Who-Soars," we're not sure how to categorize her wildlife role.

Dolittle marks the fourth big-screen adaptation of Hugh Lofting's character, who has also appeared on the radio, in stage plays, and on home video since his literary debut in the early 1920s.

While it was Rex Harrison who first brought John Dolittle to the movies in 1967, modern audiences probably associate the role with Eddie Murphy. Between 1998 and 2001, the comedian portrayed the animal-whispering maven in two films that took place in modern-day America. Based on the trailer above, it looks like Gaghan is going for a more faithful translation of Lofting's books, which were set in Victorian England.

Here's the first teaser poster as well:

Credit: Universal Pictures

In April of this year, we reported that TMNT vet Jonathan Liebesman was brought onto the project for reshoots. As sources told The Hollywood Reporter at the time, "Gaghan needed help with the animal component of it all." Even before that, the production brought on Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie) "to do an overhaul of the story."

Dolittle hits the high seas (and theaters everywhere) January 17, 2020.


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