Many of these prolific actors are everywhere at the moment, and for good reason.
The newest adaptation of Hugh Lofting’s “Doctor Dolittle” book series, The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, has confirmed a fantastic voice cast featuring some of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood. Robert Downey Jr., who will star in the titular role, took to social media to reveal the full list of impeccable talents along with which characters they’ll be playing:
I am most pleased to announce the stellar voice cast joining me on #TheVoyageofDoctorDolittle. #EmmaThompson @ItsRamiMalek @octaviaspencer #RalphFiennes @kumailn @selenagomez @MrCraigRobinson @carmenejogo @TomHolland1996 #MarionCotillard @RealFDLT @JohnCena pic.twitter.com/GmfjOCqv7w
— Robert Downey Jr (@RobertDowneyJr) March 27, 2018
For the uninitiated, The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle is an adventure story about an eccentric doctor with the ability to speak to animals. Based particularly on the second book in Lofting’s series of children’s stories, it was memorably adapted for the screen as a musical led by Rex Harrison in 1967.
A more modern take on the Dolittle character came about in the late 1990s starting with an Eddie Murphy starrer; Dr. Dolittle hit theaters in 1998 and was followed by four sequels (three of them direct-to-DVD releases led by Kyla Pratt). In between, radio series and stage adaptations were also made based on Dolittle’s escapades.
Considering Dolittle’s lasting impact on family entertainment and adventure stories, the calibre of talent in Downey Jr.’s live-action reboot isn’t surprising. Many of these actors have multiple projects in the works, with Doctor Dolittle being a fantastic addition to their resumes.
Let’s take a look at where they’ve all been and where they’re going next.
Getting over the fact that Tom Holland — or Peter Parker, the surrogate son of the MCU’s version of Tony Stark — will actually be playing Dolittle’s faithful pet Jip in this remake, the actor has had an eventful few years since debuting as Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War. Holland will next appear in Avengers: Infinity War, which is his only 2018 project with a secure release date. The Current War will reportedly come out this year too, but the film is still floating around in limbo at the moment. Chaos Walking is another big upcoming project for Holland, in which he appears opposite Star Wars‘ Daisy Ridley, but that’s due out in 2019.
Now that we’ve gotten the obligatory Marvel connections out of the way, Emma Thompson needs no introduction as a veteran actor. She voiced Mrs. Potts in Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast last year as her most recent mainstream effort. Thompson also appeared in Noah Baumbach’s highly-lauded Netflix entry The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected). She co-starred with Stanley Tucci in The Children Act, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and is due out in cinemas in the latter half of 2018. Also out sometime in 2018 will be the new television adaptation of King Lear starring Anthony Hopkins, in which Thompson plays Goneril.
Ralph Fiennes wasn’t in much in 2017 — he voiced a hilarious version of Alfred Pennyworth in The Lego Batman Movie and featured in Vanessa Redgrave’s migration documentary Sea Sorrow with Thompson — but this year, he’ll be back in full force. Fiennes joined the cast of Gavin Hood’s latest thriller, Official Secrets, earlier in March and several of his movies are in post-production. The White Crow, which is also Fiennes’ next directorial effort, and Etan Cohen’s adventure comedy Holmes and Watson are amongst the line-up. The latter in particular marks another opportunity for Fiennes to play a literary character — Moriarty — although there will likely be a distinctly American twist of having Will Ferrell as Sherlock Holmes.
All hail Octavia Spencer and her incredible 2017! She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Guillermo del Toro’s ethereal sci-fi romance The Shape of Water. Between such a high-profile role and appearances in smaller projects such as Gifted, Small Town Crime, and The Shack, Spencer is everywhere and it’s only our good luck that her star continues to shine. Her latest film, A Kid Like Jake, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and she’s got some exciting projects lined up, namely a Christmas comedy reuniting her with Jessica Chastain and a role in Blumhouse’s latest thriller, Ma.
Rami Malek has kept busy playing Elliot Alderson on Mr. Robot for the past three years and will continue to headline the show as it heads into its fourth season. Malek’s next big screen project is equally thrilling as he’s set to portray Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. The film made the news after a director switch in December 2017, but it has been in development for years. There is clearly a lot riding on Bohemian Rhapsody to do justice to an icon, but Malek is definitely a promising choice to play Mercury.
Kumail Nanjiani, one of my favorite new movie stars, adds Doctor Dolittle to a hefty list of projects he has in the works. He’ll be in two buddy cop comedies — Stuber and an untitled Ruben Fleischer film — and has a potential dramatic role based on the true story of Rais Bhuiyan. The actor-writer, who was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars for The Big Sick, continues his ascent to big screen glory as part of the star-studded cast of Doctor Dolittle. The Big Sick wasn’t the only project that Nanjiani was involved in last year. Of course, there’s Silicon Valley (back for a new season on HBO this week), but he featured in The Lego Ninjago Movie and the Ice Cube comedy Fist Fight as well.
Nanjiani’s casting leads us easily to John Cena, who will also be in Fleischer’s new movie. But ever since breaking out as an unexpected comedic presence a few years ago, Cena has headlined an animated film about a sensitive Spanish fighting bull (Ferdinand), starred in the Doug Liman war thriller The Wall, and had a role in Daddy’s Home 2. He’s solidified a working relationship with Michael Bay, too, and will star in both the new Bumblebee movie and, unfortunately, an ill-timed Duke Nukem adaptation.
Speaking of ill-advised starring roles, Selena Gomez was the subject of scrutiny when she signed on to co-lead Woody Allen’s A Rainy Day in New York, a film that may not even get a theatrical release anymore. Her appearance in the film garnered her (and her co-stars) plenty of ire, but the movie is still expected to come out this year. Gomez appeared in the Hotel Transylvania short Puppy! in 2017, while the feature-length Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation is slated for a 2018 release date. Behind the camera, she executive produced the highly controversial but deeply moving adaptation of 13 Reasons Why, which has been renewed for a second season by Netflix.
Despite having found blockbuster success in the past, Marion Cotillard stuck with home-grown French films throughout 2017; her last outing in a big movie was in the underwhelming Assassin’s Creed adaptation. Cotillard appeared as a fictionalized version of herself in husband Guillaume Canet’s comedy film Rock’n Roll. She led Arnaud Desplechin’s Ismael’s Ghosts, which opened the Cannes Film Festival last year. As far as upcoming projects are concerned, Cotillard has another French drama in the works, collaborating with Vanessa Filho on her feature film debut.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them actress Carmen Ejogo can be expected to reprise her role as Seraphina Picquery in The Crimes of Grindelwald later this year. But even without the wizarding world, her 2017 wasn’t bad either; Ejogo got to boost her resume with intriguing projects. She featured in It Comes at Night and Alien: Covenant — recalling a great horror turn she had in another franchise, The Purge — and starred opposite Denzel Washington in Roman J. Israel, Esq. Ejogo will soon lead the anticipated third season of True Detective alongside Mahershala Ali.
Comedy mainstay Craig Robinson kept within his schtick in 2017. He appeared in Table 19 (a film originally conceived by the Duplass brothers), South by Southwest entry Tragedy Girls, and the polarizing Austin Found. More recently, Robinson played the titular character in Jim Hosking’s newest Sundance entry An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn. His credits on the small screen include a role in Brooklyn Nine-Nine for the past few years. The one film that has been in limbo for Robinson is James Franco’s Zeroville, which was filmed in 2014 and has yet to find a distributor since Alchemy filed for bankruptcy in 2016.
Last but not least, Frances de la Tour — mostly lauded as a stage actress with a Tony and three Oliviers to prove it — hasn’t really been in as many onscreen productions in the last year. However, she did appear in the second season of Outlander in 2016. She is also yet another person who starred in the Harry Potter franchise back in the day — de la Tour may best be known as the giantess Madame Maxime in The Goblet of Fire. She appeared in the British miniseries Man in an Orange Shirt last year.