Robert Downey Jr. is set to play Doctor Dolittle in a new take on the famous character who talks to animals.
The 51-year-old actor – famous for playing Iron Man in several Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, including Avengers Assemble – is to take the lead role in Universal Pictures’ The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle.
The project will be written and directed by Stephen Gaghan, who won an Oscar for his screenplay for Steven Soderbergh’s drug trade drama Traffic and most recently directed Matthew McConaughey in Gold.
Universal Pictures acquired the project after a heated bidding war and the studio has teamed up with producers Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum through their company Roth/Kirschenbaum Films, which has worked on movies such as Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent, alongside Susan Downey for Team Downey.
The popular Doctor Dolittle character was created by British author Hugh Lofting as he fought in the trenches during World War I and his series of children’s books were published in the 1920s telling the adventures of a Victorian-era physician who learns to talk to animals.
Lofting’s character has previously been portrayed by Rex Harrison in the 1967 musical Doctor Dolittle, which won Oscars for Best Original Song and Best Visual Effects and Eddie Murphy who took on the part in the 1998 film Dr. Dolittle and the 2001 sequel, both of which earned a combined total of $470 million at the worldwide box office.
Downey recently wrapped up filming for the forthcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming film, which will be his eighth performance as the genius billionaire Tony Stark and his metal-clad superhero alter ego, in which he will appear opposite new Spidey Tom Holland.
He is also set to reprise the role for the forthcoming film Avengers: Infinity War, with the much-anticipated movie set to hit cinema screens in May 2018.