• Robert Downey Jr joins Eddie Murphy (l), Rex Harrison (middle) in playing Dr Dolittle. (AAP)Source: AAP
Actor to launch new franchise around medic with a gift for talking to animals.

21 Mar 2017 - 2:21 PM  UPDATED 21 Mar 2017 - 2:21 PM

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Robert Downey Jr. will star in the movie The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, based on the classic character who can talk to animals, for Universal Pictures.

Stephen Gaghan, who most recently directed Matthew McConaughey's Gold, will helm the film from his own screenplay. Tom Shepherd wrote an earlier draft.

The studio, which acquired the project following a heated bidding war, has set up The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle with producers Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum through their Roth/Kirschenbaum Films, alongside Susan Downey for Team Downey.

British author Hugh Lofting created the Doctor Dolittle character in the 1920s series of children's books, in which a Victorian-era physician opts to treat animals instead of humans because he's able to speak with them.

Lofting's character was portrayed by Rex Harrison in the 1967 musical Doctor Dolittle, which won Oscars for best original song and best visual effects. Eddie Murphy starred in the 1998 film Doctor Dolittle and the 2001 sequel, which cumulatively grossed more than $470 million at the worldwide box office.

Downey has starred in the Iron Man, Avengers, and Sherlock Holmes franchises, along with Tropic Thunder and The Judge. He'll be seen next in Spider-Man: Homecoming as Iron Man.

Gaghan won a best screenplay Academy Award for Traffic, and wrote and directed Syriana. He also nabbed an Emmy Award for an episode of NYPD Blue.

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'Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus'

MA15+, 2006
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director: Steven Shainberg
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Robert Downey Jr, Ty Burrell
What's it about?
The wife of a photographer, Diane Arbus (Nicole Kidman), forms a bond with a new neighbour (Robert Downey Jr), who covers his face with grotesque masks. Diane is exposed to a whole new world but risks alienation from those close to her.

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus review: Imaginary is the operative word

Good Night, and Good Luck

PG, 2005
Genre: Drama
Director: George Clooney
Starring: David Strathairn, George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr., Patricia Clarkson
What's it about?
Based on the real-life 1950s conflict between the principled CBS television broadcaster Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) and Senator Joseph McCarthy, the story documents the impact of McCarthy's discredited and underhand methods of hounding communists and sympathisers, whether real or imagined. With a desire to report the facts and enlighten the public, Murrow and his small team of journalists, including Fred Friendly (George Clooney) defy corporate and sponsorship pressures to unveil the undemocratic nature of the Senate committee's activities.  

Good Night, and Good Luck review: An exceptional film for Clooney