After 11 illustrious years in the role, Robert Downey Jr is leaving Tony Stark and the Marvel Universe behind, starting with a brand new blockbuster adaptation of Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Dolittle.
The character was last seen on-screen with Eddie Murphy in the title role, but this is a markedly different take which aims to be more faithful to the original series of books as a sweeping family adventure.
Downey Jr has arranged an all-star cast for this project – here’s everything you need to know about who’s on board…
Robert Downey Jr plays Dr Dolittle
Who is Dr Dolittle? Younger film fans may be most familiar with the character from Eddie Murphy’s two big screen outings in the role, but his critically panned comedies are a grand departure from where the character originated.
The book from which the new movie primarily takes inspiration is 1922’s The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, taking both its period setting and more adventurous persona of the title character.
Dolittle has the remarkable ability to talk to animals and uses it on a globetrotting journey to find a cure for the illness affecting a young Queen Victoria.
What else has Robert Downey Jr been in? As if you even need to ask… Robert Downey Jr is, of course, best known as Tony Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He played the character from 2008 until 2019, appearing in 10 different films altogether including last year’s juggernaut Avengers: Endgame.
He also played Sherlock Holmes in two films directed by Guy Ritchie and is a double Oscar nominee for 1993 biopic Chaplin and 2009 satirical comedy Tropic Thunder.
Antonio Banderas plays Rassouli
Who is Rassouli? Rassouli is “king of the pirates” and a villain who Dolittle encounters on his perilous journey.
What else has Antonio Banderas been in? Since breaking out in the early ’90s with Philadelphia and Interview with the Vampire, Antonio Banderas has starred as the vigilante Zorro in two films, a role he parodied as the voice of Puss in Boots in the Shrek movies.
This year, he earned his first ever Oscar nomination for his performance in Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory.
Michael Sheen plays Dr Blair Müdfly
Who is Dr Blair Müdfly? Dr Blair Müdfly is another villainous nemesis to Doctor Dolittle, who attempts to thwart his plans.
What else has Michael Sheen been in? Michael Sheen has appeared in numerous high profile productions including playing TV interviewer David Frost in Frost/Nixon, Prime Minister Tony Blair in The Queen and vampire Aro in the Twilight film series.
On the small screen, he earned a Golden Globe nomination for his lead performance on Masters of Sex, while more recently he played the angel Aziraphale in Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens.
Jessie Buckley plays Queen Victoria
Who is Queen Victoria? Queen Victoria was the British monarch who reigned from 1837 to 1901, with this film taking place during her younger years.
Dolittle sees Her Royal Highness in the grip of a deadly illness, prompting the titular animal whisperer to set out across the seas and find a cure.
What else has Jessie Buckley been in? Jessie Buckley is a rising star who had a banner year in 2019, with a heartbreaking role in historical miniseries Chernobyl and a BAFTA-nominated turn in the musical drama Wild Rose.
Harry Collett plays Tommy Stubbins
Who is Tommy Stubbins? Tommy is Dolittle’s young apprentice who accompanies him on his adventure.
What else has Harry Collett been in? A relative newcomer to the industry, Collett has appeared on the BBC’s hospital drama series Casualty in the role of Oliver Hide.
Emma Thompson plays Polynesia
Who is Polynesia? Polynesia is a wise macaw and trusted advisor to Doctor Dolittle.
What else has Emma Thompson been in? Emma Thompson is one of the UK’s most recognisable acting talents, who has recently appeared in Last Christmas, Late Night, Netflix’s The Meyerowitz Stories and Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast.
She made waves on the small screen last year with her performance on the political drama Years and Years.
Rami Malek plays Chee-Chee
Who is Chee-Chee? Chee-Chee is another of Dolittle’s animal friends, a kind gorilla but one who is easily frightened as seen in the film’s trailer.
What else has Rami Malek been in? Malek’s breakout role came as troubled computer hacker Elliot on the drama series Mr Robot, before going on to win an Oscar for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.
This year, he has a role in the new James Bond flick No Time To Die, playing the spy’s latest nemesis.
John Cena plays Yoshi
Who is Yoshi? No, sadly Mario’s green dinosaur isn’t making an appearance here. Rather, Yoshi is the name given to a polar bear associate of Doctor Dolittle.
What else has John Cena been in? A bona fide superstar in the world of WWE, Cena has been building a film career for himself as of late with roles in comedies like Daddy’s Home and Blockers, as well as blockbusters like Bumblebee and the upcoming Fast and Furious 9.
Kumail Nanjiani plays Plimpton
Who is Plimpton? Plimpton is a fussy and easily flustered ostrich, prone to sticking his head in the sand (both literally and figuratively). He is known to bicker with Yoshi.
What else has Kumail Nanjiani been in? Nanjiani broke out on the HBO comedy series Silicon Valley, before venturing into film with 2017’s The Big Sick, which he co-wrote with his wife.
Expect to see much more of him towards the end of the year, with the launch of Marvel’s newest franchise The Eternals, in which he has a starring role.
Octavia Spencer plays Dab-Dab
Who is Dab-Dab? Dab-Dab is another of Dolittle’s animal companions, an energetic duck with metal legs.
What else has Octavia Spencer been in? Octavia Spencer is a three-time Oscar nominee for her roles in The Help, Hidden Figures and The Shape of Water, but eagle-eyed fans may also recognise her from Bong Joon-Ho’s Snowpiercer or the 2019 horror flick Ma.
Tom Holland plays Jip
Who is Jip? A contender for the cutest of all Dolittle’s animal friends, Jip is a loyal dog who – get this – wears glasses! Give this film the Academy Awards, all of them.
What else has Tom Holland been in? Holland reunites with his MCU co-star for this film, having played the Spider-Man to Downey Jr’s Iron Man since 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.
Craig Robinson plays Kevin
Who is Kevin? One of Dolittle’s smaller animal friends, Kevin is a squirrel with an attitude who joins the good doctor on his voyage.
What else has Craig Robinson been in? Robinson is best known for his role as Darryl in the US version of The Office, but has also collaborated with Seth Rogen several times for big-screen outings Knocked Up and This is the End. He also plays the recurring role of Doug Judy, the Pontiac Bandit on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Selena Gomez plays Betsy?
Who is Betsy? Betsy is a giraffe and another of Dolittle’s animal friends.
What else has Selena Gomez been in? Gomez is a former Disney star who has gone on to launch a successful singing career as well as bagging acting roles in the Hotel Transylvania films and Jim Jarmusch’s zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die.
Ralph Fiennes plays Barry
Who is Barry? Barry is one animal who Dolittle just can’t seem to talk round. The vicious tiger is one of his most fearsome foes…
What else has Ralph Fiennes been in? Since his early big screen roles in acclaimed films like Schindler’s List and The English Patient, Fiennes has gone on to take on huge roles such as Voldemort in the Harry Potter series and M in James Bond’s recent features.
Frances de la Tour plays Ginko-Who-Soars
Who is Ginko-Who-Soars? Ginko-Who-Soars is a fire-breathing dragon who the Doctor and his pals encounter on the travels. Good luck talking this one down, Doc…
What else has Frances de la Tour been in? Frances de la Tour’s screen roles include Miss Ruth Jones on Rising Damp, Madame Olympe Maxime in the Harry Potter films and Violet on the Ian McKellen sitcom Vicious.
Dolittle arrives in UK cinemas on Friday 7th February 2020