After Moulin Rouge, it seemed a real shame that Ewan McGregor didn’t instantly become the musical movie heartthrob he seemed destined to be. In fact, the only way McGregor performs in musicals these days is from the recording booth, voicing beloved Disney animated characters in new remakes. First he put on a French accent to play the flirtatious candelabra Lumière in Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast and now McGregor will follow that up by playing everyone’s favorite moral compass, Jiminy Cricket, in Guillermo del Toro‘s stop-motion animated film Pinocchio.
In an interview with ACE Universe (via Fandom), McGregor revealed that he will be voicing Jiminy Cricket, the diminutive talking cricket who acts as the title character’s conscience, in Guillermo del Toro’s animated Pinocchio. McGregor teased that he had already recorded some of the dialogue for the film before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shut down productions across the world, but that there “may or may not be a song that has to be recorded.” McGregor said:
“I’m playing Jiminy Cricket in Guillermo del Toro’s version of Pinocchio. That I had started working on before I left for New York, so some of that is recorded. And of course it’s stop-motion animated so it’s going to take them a great long time to make that film. But my first part, which is recording his dialogue, is sort of done. There may or may not be a song that has to be recorded. I’m not sure I’m at liberty to discuss that.”
Jiminy Cricket in his current form — top hat and coat, genteel manner — may seem like an invention of the 1940 Disney movie, but the character of a talking cricket actually appeared in Italian writer Carlo Collodi’s 1883 children’s book The Adventures of Pinocchio, which Disney then adapted. Del Toro’s animated Pinocchio for Netflix is unrelated to the Disney version, and will be less family-friendly than the 1940 Disney film, with an approach inspired by Frankenstein. With that in mind, McGregor’s version will likely be a departure from the Disney version and draw on some of the more fable-like (and slightly creepy) elements of the cricket from Collodi’s original book. Though with McGregor apparently singing, maybe del Toro will be appealing a little to those nostalgic for the Disney film and its most famous song, “Wish Upon a Star.”
Pinocchio has been in development for years and was one of the many unmade Guillermo del Toro projects before Netflix rescued the project from oblivion and gave del Toro essentially free rein. Del Toro is co-directing with Fantastic Mr. Fox animation director Mark Gustafson, from a script by Over The Garden Wall and Adventure Time writer Patrick McHale.
Back when the Netflix project was announced, del Toro said, “In our story, Pinocchio is an innocent soul with an uncaring father who gets lost in a world he cannot comprehend. He embarks on an extraordinary journey that leaves him with a deep understanding of his father and the real world. I’ve wanted to make this movie for as long as I can remember. After the incredible experience we have had on Trollhunters, I am grateful that the talented team at Netflix is giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to introduce audiences everywhere to my version of this strange puppet-turned-real-boy.”
Pinocchio is expected on Netflix sometime in 2021.
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