I think it's safe to say that the multi-talented Jonathan Groff won over a lot more all-aged fans with his roles in popular projects such as the Frozen films and the epic musical Hamilton than he did with his hyper-dark role on Netflix's serial killer drama Mindhunter. Groff is returning to the streaming service for his next big TV project, but it won't be for Mindhunter Season 3, much to the dismay of fans. Rather, Groff is joining New Girl and Watchmen stars for the family-friendly limited series Lost Ollie.
Inspired by the children's book Ollie's Odyssey from author William Joyce, Lost Ollie will be a live-action/animated hybrid series about a lost toy (Jonathan Groff) in the midst of an epic journey in search of his owner, and also about a boy named Billy (Kesler Talbot) who lost not just his homemade stuffed rabbit, but also his best friend. The quest to reunite will put both Ollie and Billy in all kinds of dangerous situations, but I can't help but feel like everyone will pull through. That said, the show will consist of four 45-minute episodes, which implies things might be far more dramatic than happy-go-lucky with each installment's passing.
While the behind-the-scenes talent on Lost Ollie is also superb – more on that lower – let's talk about all the big names that will be joining Jonathan Groff. On the toy side of things, we have the Grammy-winning Mary J. Blige (Power Book II: Ghost) as a raggedy but fearless teddy bear named Rosy that befriends Ollie, while Watchmen's Tim Blake Nelson is set to voice a chivalrous and helpful old clown doll named Zozo.
On the human side, Lost Ollie will have Jane the Virgin vet Gina Rodriguez playing Billy's loving and inspirational mother Sharon, affectionately known as Momma. On the flip side, Jurassic World's Jake Johnson will play Billy's father James, a.k.a. Daddy, whose good intentions for Billy are sometimes upended by being overworked and stressed. And then there's Kesler Talbot as Billy, a creative young boy who aims to retrieve the beloved toy his mother made for him. This sounds like it has Brave Little Toaster vibes, and I am all about courageous, size-appropriate objects.
Interestingly, this is a cast that is already well familiar with Netflix TV projects. (As King George himself sang, "You'll be back.") Mentioned previously, Jonathan Groff headed up the first two seasons of David Fincher's Mindhunter, while Gina Rodriguez is the voice of the titular criminal in Carmen Sandiego and Jake Johnson lent his expletive-spewing skills for the adult-animated comedy Hoops. Meanwhile, Mary J. Blige was part of the first season of The Umbrella Academy, and Tim Blake Nelson starred in the docu-drama Wormwood some years back. Only Kesler Talbot hasn't worked with the streaming service before, but that'll change with Lost Ollie.
Bringing Lost Ollie to life will be creator, writer and executive producer Shannon Tindle, an artist and designer who worked on such projects as Coraline and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, and who also penned the story for Laika's Kubo and the Two Strings. The director all four episodes will be Peter Ramsey, who worked with Jake Johnson in the absolutely stellar Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Stranger Things' Shawn Levy will be executive producing along with colleague Josh Barry. Another major creative plus for Lost Ollie is that Lucasfilm's Industrial Lights & Magic studio will be handling the character designs and animation.
So while it's not another season of Mindhunter for Jonathan Groff, and also isn't another Frozen film or another Lin-Manuel Miranda musical, Lost Ollie sounds like it could be an exciting and emotional project right up there with some of Disney's most memorable projects in recent years. And if Ollie, Rosy and Zozo end up crossing paths with a toaster, a lamp, a vacuum, an electric blanket and a radio, it will be the greatest crossover in human history. Or perhaps something slightly less hyperbolic.
Lost Ollie doesn't yet have a release date set on Netflix, and it might be a while before that happens, given how long it usually takes live-action/animated hybrids to come together. But here's hoping we haven't all outgrown our favorite toys by the time it gets released.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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