Some of Hollywood’s biggest names lend their voices to the family film about an animal whisperer, out January 2020

By Lindsay Kimble
October 14, 2019 09:31 AM

Robert Downey Jr. has a new set of superpowers — and a pair of mutton chops — in the first look at his latest movie role.

The Avengers star may have packed away his Iron Man suit, but now Downey Jr. has a knack for talking to members of the animal kingdom in Dolittle.

Based on a series of 1920s children’s books by Hugh Lofting, Dolittle follows the famed fictional physician, now a widower who keeps his animal friends as company, as he rediscovers his courage on a quest to find a cure for an ailing queen.

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“I’ve been talking to animals for years now … And they finally started talking back,” Downey Jr., 54, joked on Twitter. “Does this mean I was getting the silent treatment?”

The film features a star-studded voice cast, including Octavia Spencer as Dab-Dab the duck, John Cena as Yoshi the polar bear, Rami Malek as Chee-Chee the gorilla, and Selena Gomez as a giraffe named Betsy. Other members of the cast include Emma Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani, Marion Cotillard, and Ralph Fiennes, as well as Downey Jr.’s Marvel costar Tom Holland.

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In a March 2018 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Downey Jr. said he had a “good time” making Dolittle, admitting some initial hurdles in perfecting the character’s accent. “I decided to give myself, like, 40 additional challenges, like a Welsh accent — which even Welsh people say is hard to do,” he told EW.

Downey Jr. follows in the footsteps of Rex Harrison, who originated the role on the big screen in 1967, and Eddie Murphy, who portrayed the titular character in Dr. Dolittle in 1998 and its 2001 sequel.

Dolittle, in theaters January 17, 2020, is written and directed by Stephen Gaghan.

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