Robert Downey Jr. to play Doctor Dolittle

Robert Downey Jr. will be taking a cue from Eddie Murphy for his next role. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Iron Man actor has signed on to play the lead in The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, which will be based on the same 1920's Hugh Lofting children's books as the famous Murphy films.

The movie comes from a script by Stephen Gaghan (Syriana, Rules of Engagement), who is also set to direct. Plot details are unknown at this time, but, with Gaghan and Downey's involvement, it seems likely that the project will feature a much more action-heavy take on the material than the Murphy films did. The book version of The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle could potentially also fit with this idea, at least more so than the original novel. The second in the Doctor Dolittle series, Voyages is longer and more involved than its predecessor; however, the Newbery Award-winner is still aimed at children, and features the Doctor teaming up with a dog, a parrot, and a 9-year-old boy to search for his missing colleague Long Arrow.

The Doctor Dolittle books were first adapted into a movie in 1967, earning an Academy Award nomination for best picture and winning best original song and best visual effects. The character then moved more heavily towards the comedic (and further away from the source material) with the first Murphy-starring film in 1998 and the theatrical sequel; the franchise has since continued with three direct-to-DVD sequels not featuring Murphy. It is unclear if Voyage will feature songs like the original film, although RDJ has shown over the years that he has some pretty awesome pipes if they do decide to go that route.

Downey has an ability to combine action and comedy that should make him a perfect Doctor Dolittle. However, he first has to finish up filming his most famous role as Tony Stark in the next two Avengers movies, with Voyage next on his plate after he powers down his suit, according to Deadline. While we wait for Downey to fly into theaters again, see why we think Iron Man may die during Marvel's Phase 3.

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