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Two things that never get boring, good stories and animals.
Dolittle has both! To fill these iconic shoes there must be a solid team in front of the camera as well as behind the camera. In comes Team Downey, a production company founded by Robert Downey, Jr. and wife Susan Downey, which produced Dolittle in theaters January 17.
Growing up just outside of Chicago, Susan started doing film and television initially sparking her interest in entertainment. Her curiosity led her to want to learn more about what happens behind the camera eventually landing her at USC to study production. Reminiscing she shared how the male-dominated film industry has since embraced more women film producers. Susan spoke of a time when for every fifty film students only four were female.
Fast forward and she is a producer for Dolittle. Her work ethic is simple, put your nose down and do the work. As a woman, Susan’s natural instinct is to multitask which is what she believes makes the role of producer well suited for her.
Preparing for Dolittle
Preparing for Dolittle provided complete independence and originality from the previous two, Dr. Dolittle movies filmed in 1967 and 1998. The studios were different and since the Downey’s wanted to add their own uniqueness to the Dolittle story, they only sourced select material from the Hugh Lofting books written in 1920, exactly 100 years ago. From this, the script was written by Steve Gaghan and brought to Susan and Robert.
Mrs. Downey didn’t act alone, she was joined by producers Joe Roth and his partner Jeff Kirschenbaum who were very supportive of her during the entire process. At the end of it, she and Robert got on board and made a movie!
When you produce a film, you have say in the selection of the script that you accept. For Robert, Dolittle had to be made. He admired Dolittle the man and found it interesting that his character was once a part of the world and just one day decided that he was never leaving the house again, nor will he ever interact with other human beings again. Lucky for Dolittle a couple of curious kids came along.
As the producer, Susan liked the script for what she called a “macro thing.” This would have been the first opportunity for them to make a family film that both of their children, ages 5 & 8 can enjoy.
Expect lots of quick-witted comedy. Robert praised Craig’s (Robinson) improvisations saying that he could do no wrong.
Next Up For Team Downey
The ten-year-old production company has new projects on the way. They acquired the rights to Perry Mason starring Matthew Rhys, Tatiana Maslany and John Lithgow slated for HBO release later this year and January 15 launched their YouTube series Age of A.I.
After losing his wife (Kasia Smutniak) seven years earlier, the eccentric Dr. John Dolittle (Downey), famed doctor and veterinarian of Queen Victoria’s England, hermits himself away behind the high walls of Dolittle Manor with only his menagerie of exotic animals for company.
But when the young queen (Jessie Buckley, Wild Rose) falls gravely ill, a reluctant Dolittle is forced to set sail on an epic adventure to a mythical island in search of a cure, regaining his wit and courage as he crosses old adversaries and discovers wondrous creatures.
The doctor is joined on his quest by a young, self-appointed apprentice (Dunkirk’s Harry Collett) and a raucous coterie of animal friends, including an anxious gorilla (Oscar® winner Rami Malek), an enthusiastic but bird-brained duck (Oscar® winner Octavia Spencer), a bickering duo of a cynical ostrich (The Big Sick’s Kumail Nanjiani) and an upbeat polar bear (John Cena, Bumblebee) and a headstrong parrot (Oscar® winner Emma Thompson), who serves as Dolittle’s most trusted advisor and confidante.
DOLITTLE – IN THEATERS JANUARY 17
Director: Stephan Gaghan
Screenplay: Stephen Gaghan, Dan Grego, Doug Mand
Producers: Susan Downey, Joe Roth, Jeff Kirschenbaum
Cast: Robert Downey, Jr., Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen (The Queen), Oscar® winner Jim Broadbent and Carmen Laniado (FX’s A Christmas Carol) and voice performances from Tom Holland, Ralph Fiennes, Selena Gomez, Oscar® winner Marion Cotillard, Frances de la Tour, Jason Mantzoukas and Craig Robinson.