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Disney’s been on a roll on the the live-action remake/re-imagining front since 2014’s Maleficent (or, if you want to back a little further, 2010’s Alice in Wonderland), so it’s hardly surprising that Pinocchio, the Mouse House’s second animated feature film, is getting such treatment. The live-action Pinocchio movie has been in the works since 2015, and ever since Robert Zemeckis officially signed on to direct in early 2020, the project’s been making steady progress moving forward.
From what’s been revealed so far, the live-action Pinocchio movie (which Robert Zemeckis co-wrote with producer Chris Weitz) looks to be a relatively straightforward remake of the 1940 original, although obviously there will be some creative alterations. As for the movie’s cast, let’s go over who’s joined the lineup of actors so far, which includes Tom Hanks scoring a key role.
Between voicing Woody across four Toy Story movies and playing Walt Disney himself in Saving Mr. Banks, not to mention starring in the Touchstone Pictures-produced movies Splash and Turner & Hooch, Tom Hanks should unquestionably be counted in the upper echelon of Disney actors. Hanks’ latest contribution to the studio is playing Geppetto, the kind woodcarver who fashions Pinocchio and raises him as his son when he’s brought to life. Hanks first entered talks to join Pinocchio in late 2018 when Paddington’s Paul King was attached to direct, but it was only in December 2020, nearly a full year after Robert Zemeckis inherited helming duties, that Hanks officially signed on.
Benjamin Evan Ainsworth
As one would expect, Pinocchio will be a mix of live-action and CGI, with Pinocchio obviously being depicted with the latter (until he’s turned into a real boy, of course). So who will voice the beloved puppet? That honor goes to Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, who many of you might recognize for playing Miles in Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor. That said, Pinocchio won’t be Ainsworth’s first Disney outing, as he can currently be seen as William in Flora & Ulysses, which is streaming on Disney+ now (use this link to sign up for the streaming service if you’re not already subscribed).
One of the main villains in the original Pinocchio was Honest John, a con artist fox who convinces the eponymous protagonist to join Stromboli’s puppet show and later embark to Pleasure Island. That won’t change for the live-action Pinocchio adaptation, as Keegan-Michael Key has been cast to voice Honest John. This will be Key’s fourth time contributing to the Disney canon, having previously played Hugo Gernsback in Tomorrowland, Ducky in Toy Story 4 and Kamari in the Lion King remake. That said, it’s unclear if Key’s Honest John will be accompanied by his cat partner Gideon (with the duo being based off the unnamed Fox and Cat from the original tale The Adventures of Pinocchio) or if he’ll operate solo.
Honest John wasn’t screwing with Pinocchio on a whim… at least, not when it came to persuading him to go to Pleasure Island. With that, he was hired by The Coachman, who rounded up naughty boys to take to that sinister location, then convinced them to misbehave so they’d turn into donkeys and he could sell them. That nefarious scheme will remain in place for the live-action Pinocchio movie, as Luke Evans has been cast as The Coachman. Disney fans will recognize Evans as Gaston in the live-action Beauty and the Beast remake (he’ll reprise the role for a spinoff series), while others may know him more from his time in the Fast & Furious franchise or Hobbit film series.
Pinocchio coming to life wasn’t a miracle of nature; we have the Blue Fairy to thank for making the puppet be able to walk and talk. The Blue Fairy also appointed Pinocchio his conscience (I’ll elaborate on that in a bit) and informed him that he’d be able to become a real boy if he proved he was brave, truthful and unselfish. Cynthia Erivo will play the live-action version of the Blue Fairy, with Pinocchio marking her first time working on a Disney project. Her movie and TV work includes Bad Times at the El Royale, Chaos Walking, The Outsider and the upcoming third season of Genius.
Remember that conscience I mentioned in the last section? Well, for Pinocchio, that cognitive process is personified through a cricket; Jiminy Cricket, to be precise. Having been given a much bigger role in Disney’s Pinocchio compared to the cricket in the original story, it’s only natural that the live-action remake will bring him back. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who’s recently appeared in Project Power and The Trial of the Chicago 7, has been tapped to voice Jiminy, though we’ll have to wait and see if he’ll wear the same kind of old-times gentleman outfit that his animated predecessor did, or if he’ll rock different threads... or any clothes at all!
Now we come to one of the ways the live-action Pinocchio movie will differ from the animated version that celebrated its 80th anniversary last year. Lorraine Bracco, whose notable credits include Goodfellas, The Sopranos and Rizzoli & Isles, has been cast as Sofia the Seagull, a new character. It’s unclear whether Sofia will be a major or minor character in the new Pinocchio, but hopefully her presence will help make this remake feel unique rather than a total retread of the original.
Like Lady and the Tramp and the upcoming Peter Pan & Wendy, Pinocchio will exclusively play on Disney+ rather than get a traditional theatrical release. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates on how Pinocchio is coming along, and don’t forget to look through our 2021 release schedule to discover what movies will come out later this year.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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