From talking to his AI Jarvis, Robert Downey Jr is now getting set to talk to all kinds of animals. The actor will be taking on the lead role in The Voyage Of Doctor Dolittle. Universal Pictures won an auction for the story, originally the second of British children's author Hugh Lofting's Doctor Dolittle books.

Stephen Gaghan has been roped in to direct the project and Tom Shepherd will rewrite the script, according to a Deadline report. Roth/Kirschenbaum Films' Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum will produce alongside Susan Downey from Team Downey.

The Dolittle series tells the story of a fictional doctor who decides to treat animals instead of humans and it helps that he can speak to them in their own languages. Through his work he helps the animals deal with threats to their homes and gets a better understanding of nature.

The project rights first came up for auction earlier this week, and Universal Studios competed with the likes of 20th Century Fox and Sony. The 1920s books got their first film adaptation back in 1967, starring Rex Harrison. In 1998, 20<sup>th Century gave the story a comedic makeover with Eddie Murphy playing the titular MD. The studios followed it up with a sequel in 2001.

The new film will begin production sometime next year, but for now, Downey is keeping busy with his upcoming superhero films in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Avengers: Infinity War. The 51-year-old is also scheduled to star in an upcoming Warner Bros' Pinocchio film.