Robert Downey Jr to play Doctor Dolittle in new film

The actor will star in a new Doctor Dolittle film, directed by Oscar-winning screenwriter Stephen Gaghan.

Robert Downey Jr will take on the role of Doctor Dolittle in a new film based on the Hugh Lofting character.

The Iron Man star will play the physician who can talk to animals in the forthcoming Voyage of Doctor Dolittle. Stephen Gaghan, who won an Oscar for his Traffic script and more recently directed Matthew McConaughey in Gold, will write and direct the film.

The project caused a bidding war in Hollywood, with Universal beating out multiple studios to pick up the rights to the film, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The first big-screen adaption of Doctor Dolittle in 1967, which saw Rex Harrison take on the titular character, was nominated for an Oscar for best picture and won for best original song and visual effects.

Later, Eddie Murphy made the role his own in a 1998 film that was a worldwide box office hit and spurred multiple sequels that were not as well received.

The title of the latest adaption is borrowed from Lofting’s second Dolittle novel. The book centres on Dolittle training a young assistant, Tommy Stubbins, and journeying to Spider Monkey Island to rescue his kidnapped friend, Long Arrow.

Downey Jr is set to appear in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming as well as Avengers: Infinity War the following year.