Disney has a live-action Pinocchio in the works from director Robert Zemeckis and it’s just cast a pair of its most magical characters. Cynthia Erivo and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have recently joined the cast, respectively playing the Blue Fairy and cinema’s favorite top hat-clad insect, Jiminy Cricket. There’ll obviously be lots of VFX involved, but it would also be kind of amazing if they kept JGL exactly the same except for his size and apparel.
Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Keegan Michael-Key and Tom Hanks were previously announced as Pinocchio cast members: Ainsworth will voice Pinocchio, Michael-Key will voice Honest John and Hanks will portray Geppetto—a role he has been attached to since 2018.
Pinocchio, the boyish wooden puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy, first appeared in The Adventures of Pinocchio—a 19th century children’s novel by Italian writer Carlo Collodi. Disney first famously adapted Collodi’s tale in the 1940 animated film, and the character has been repeatedly rendered ever since. There is pop-locking Pinocchio from the Shrek saga and, later this year, Netflix will release its own Pinocchio picture, co-directed by Guillermo del Toro and featuring Ewan McGregor as the cricket alongside Tilda Swinton’s fairy. Pinocchio has become a champion of childhood playthings which wish to be sentient, not unlike Margery Williams’ The Velveteen Rabbit.
Between Hanks’ knack for portraying sincere patriarchal figures and the effectwork blending live performance and the final Pinocchio, the story’s central meditations on what it means to be real are likely to offer an especially poignant resonance in their delivery.
Pinocchio begins production in the U.K. this March and will (eventually) premiere on Disney+.