“There may or may not be a song that needs to be recorded,” the actor teased.
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After playing Winnie the Pooh pal Christopher Robin and voicing Lumière in Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast, Ewan McGregor is taking on another childhood icon.
The Star Wars and Birds of Prey actor will voice Jiminy Cricket in director Guillermo del Toro‘s stop-motion-animated Pinocchio movie for Netflix, the actor said during a virtual panel Q&A for ACE Universe.
This wasn’t a case of misquoting or lack of context, either. “I’m playing Jiminy Cricket in Guillermo del Toro’s version of Pinocchio,” he told host Angélique Roché over video chat from his self-isolated location. “That I had started working on before I left for New York. So some of that is recorded. And of course, it’s stop-frame animation so it’s going to take them a great long time to make that film. But my first part of that, which is recording his dialogue, is sort of done. There may or may not be a song that needs to be recorded. I’m not sure that I’m at liberty to discuss that.”
In Disney’s classic 1940 animated Pinocchio adaptation, Jiminy Cricket (voiced by Cliff Edwards) famously sings “When You Wish Upon a Star” at the beginning and end of the film.
A rep for Netflix did not comment on McGregor’s statements, and an official casting announcement has not been revealed as of yet.
A stop-motion Pinocchio musical has long been a passion project for Del Toro, who won two Oscars for his 2017 film The Shape of Water. “In a strange way, two of the stories that fascinate me the most are kind of related, which is Frankenstein and Pinocchio,” he once told EW in 2012. (Yes, he’s been trying to make this film for years.) “They are both about creatures that are created and then get lost in a world they don’t understand. And they are both journeys of understanding, and journeys of evolution of the spirit. When we started working on Pinocchio we knew very clearly that we wanted to make it different in the sense that it is not just a fairy tale but a fairy tale that actually moves you and emotionally affects you. It deals with ideas that are relevant to everyone, to all mankind in a way.”
The new Pinocchio is a retelling of the classic tale set in 1930s Italy, and co-production designer Guy Davis is taking inspiration from Gris Grimly’s imagery for Pinocchio. Mackinnon and Saunders, which worked on Corpse Bride, is building the puppets for Pinocchio. Del Toro also co-directs with Mark Gustafson (Fantastic Mr. Fox), co-writes with Patrick McHale (Over The Garden Wall), and produces.
Many Hollywood film and television productions are strategizing how to get back to work in a pre-coronavirus-vaccine world, including McGregor’s upcoming live-action Obi-Wan Star Wars series. Del Toro, too, had to stop production on his Nightmare Alley film with Cate Blanchett and Bradley Cooper. But animation hasn’t really paused. Disney is currently working on Pixar’s Soul (set for theaters Nov. 20) and Disney Animation’s Raya and the Last Dragon (set for theaters March 12, 2021) remotely, and a number of studios are doing the same.