Robert Downey, Jr. surrounds himself with a supporting cast of animals, with whom his physician character possesses the ability to speak to, in Dolittle. The animal characters are brought to life by, of course, CGI trickery and an A-list ensemble voice talents.
In his first role outside of the MCU sandbox in years, Robert Downey, Jr. clearly owns much of the spotlight as the title role of the adventure fantasy based on Hugh Lofting’s novels. However, we believe the animal cast of Dolittle, now playing in theaters, deserve just as much attention. In that spirit, who are these animals and who is voicing them?
Barry (Ralph Fiennes)
In comparison to previous sinister roles, such as Lord Voldemort or Amon Goeth in Schindler’s List, Barry may be one of the more lighthearted villains Academy Award-nominee Ralph Fiennes has played. Despite making friends with most of the animals he meets, Dr. John Dolittle finds an adversary in the gold-fanged tiger who eyes the physician for his next meal when he finds himself locked in a dungeon with him.
Betsy (Selena Gomez)
Easily the tallest of Robert Downey Jr.’s onscreen animal friends, Betsy is a giraffe voiced by former Disney Channel star and current pop star, Selena Gomez. The actress and singer, who made a recent surprise turn in Jim Jarmusch’s horror-comedy The Dead Don’t Die last year, has also lent her voice to Sony Animation’s Hotel Transylvania trilogy as Count Dracula’s daughter, Mavis.
Chee-Chee (Rami Malek)
You have heard of the Cowardly Lion - now, meet the Cowardly Gorilla. Oscar-winner Rami Malek, who will also appear as James Bond’s next villain in No Time to Die, goes from portraying a larger than life rock star in Bohemian Rhapsody to a larger than life jungle beast in Dolittle. However, despite his size, Chee-Chee is far meeker and more anxious than one would expect a gorilla to be, but that does not stop Robert Downey, Jr.’s Dr. John Dolittle from selecting him as his right-hand man.
Dab-Dab (Octavia Spencer)
Octavia Spencer, the titular antagonist of last year’s thriller Ma, plays an absent-minded duck named Dab-Dab in Dolittle. This is the third time the Oscar-winning actress has voiced an animal, after playing a snake in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters and an otter in Zootopia, and her second voice role in 2020, along with playing the Manticore in Pixar’s upcoming fantasy Onward.
Dragon (Frances de la Tour)
Of all the creatures in Dolittle’s ensemble, none is more “fantastic” than the fire-breathing dragon that the film’s trailer sees Robert Downey Jr. and his pals awkwardly crossing paths with. Dragon is voiced by Tony-winning English actress Frances de la Tour, who is no stranger to fantasy, having played half-giant Madame Maxime in Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and a full giant in Into the Woods.
James the Dragonfly (Jason Mantzoukas)
In addition to a dragon, Robert Downey Jr. also interacts with a (much smaller) dragonfly named James in Dolittle. Providing the voice of James is Jason Mantzoukas, a comic actor of Greek descent known best as co-host of the How Did This Get Made? podcast, the impeccably crass fan-favorite Rafi on the long-running FX comedy The League, and his surprisingly earnest turn as the ominous Tick Tock Man in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum.
Jip (Tom Holland)
How fitting for Tom Holland, whose Peter Parker follows Tony Stark like a dog in Spider-Man: Homecoming, stars in Dolittle, alongside MCU co-star Robert Downey Jr., as a dog. Playing Dr. John Dolittle’s house pet, Jip, also allows Holland the unusual opportunity to use his natural British accent, unlike his other big voice acting role this year in Pixar’s Onward, alongside fellow Dolittle animal star Octavia Spencer.
Kevin (Craig Robinson)
Like his co-star Octavia Spencer, Craig Robinson also provided the voice of a talking snake in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, but in Dolittle, he and Spencer do not have animals in common. The former Office actor who recently starred in the Golden Globe-nominated Netflix biopic Dolemite Is My Name is the voice of a rambunctious squirrel named Kevin.
Plimpton (Kumail Nanjiani)
After playing a dog named Rusty in the animated HBO series Animals., Kumail Nanjiani is once again lending his voice to a talking animal character, this time an ostrich named Plimpton in Dolittle. Plimpton is the second CGI character in a live action movie voiced by the Pakistani-born comedian after playing pint-sized alien Pawny in Men in Black: International. The Academy Award-nominated co-star and writer of 2017’s The Big Sick just starred in the sixth and final season of HBO’s hit comedy Silicon Valley and is set to make his MCU debut later this year in Eternals.
Poly (Emma Thompson)
Polynesia (“Poly” for short) is a parrot with a far more sophisticated vocabulary than the typical squawk of your average tropical bird. In Dolittle, she is often seen going toe-to-talon with Robert Downey, Jr.’s character as to who should be considered the alpha of the group. Voiced by Academy Award-winner Emma Thompson, whose performance in the comedy Late Night recently earned her a Golden Globe nomination, Poly’s British accent gives her a heartwarming classiness that rivals most humans.
Tutu (Marion Contillard)
It is not very often that foxes are depicted as French, but French-born Marion Contillard’s performance as the voice of Tutu must be a unique turning point for the animal in cinema. Dolittle is the first English-language voice acting role for the actress, best known as a Christopher Nolan regular and for her Oscar-winning performance in La Vie En Rose, which depicts the life of French singer Edith Piaf.
Yoshi (John Cena)
After playing a kind bull in Ferdinand, John Cena once again plays a walking contradiction to nature in Dolittle as Yoshi, a polar bear who cannot stand to be cold. The wrestling star began his onscreen career as the title role of the WWE-produced action flick The Marine in 2006 and has gone on to play a variety of roles, such as an overprotective dad in Blockers and a hostile government agent in the Transformers spin-off Bumblebee. He is set to star in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad and also recently followed in his WWE colleague Dwayne Johnson’s footsteps by joining the cast of Fast and Furious 9.
It seems that Robert Downey Jr. has an impressive zoo of talent to back him up in Dolittle. Be sure to check back for more updates on the family adventure and its large cast here on CinemaBlend.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.