Recently, there has been renewed interest in the famous tale of Pinocchio, the small wooden puppet who just wanted to be a real boy. As is the case with many popular franchises (we’re looking at you, Jungle Book), a single Pinocchio reboot is not enough in Hollywood’s eyes. The title puppet will be featured in not one 2022 remake, but two. The first will be Disney’s live-action adaptation of the 1940 animated original, which introduced us to the long-nosed protagonist, his loving father, and the tiny cricket who taught everyone how to wish upon a star.
The teaser trailer for the new film, which dropped on May 31, gave us a first look at Geppetto, Figaro, Jiminy Cricket, the Blue Fairy, and the Coachman, but it remained cryptic about its no-strings-attached star, opting to hint at the adventures that lie in store for Pinocchio instead of showing them outright. The trailer hints that Disney’s reboot will be a faithful update of the original, unlike Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming version, which promises to be darker in tone than any of Disney’s properties. (And with a cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, John Turturro, and Christoph Waltz, we’re sure that he’ll succeed.)
Here are the major players in Disney’s version, who have the much harder task of bringing the original movie’s characters to life in fresh but faithful ways.
Tom Hanks as Geppetto
Many know Hanks for his work in classic films like Forrest Gump and Cast Away, but now he’s taking on the role of Pinocchio’s creator and father. Geppetto is an expert craftsman who just wants a family to call his own, so he builds a little boy puppet to keep him company. When the wooden toy isn’t enough, Geppetto realizes that he wants a real son of his own. He wishes on a star for Pinocchio to come to life, never imagining that a Blue Fairy would come down and make his wish come true. Of course, as with many other children’s book and fairy tale characters, Geppetto will learn to be careful what he wishes for.
Cynthia Erivo as The Blue Fairy
One of the most iconic fairies, aside from Tinker Bell, is the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio. This legend will be played by one of Broadway’s legends, Cynthia Erivo. Known for her work in The Color Purple, which earned her a Tony Award, and the film Harriet, in which she portrayed Harriet Tubman, Erivo is making a name for herself as a shining star in the entertainment industry. Not only will she be shining bright as the granter to Geppetto’s wish in Pinocchio, but she’ll also be defying gravity as Elphaba in the upcoming movie adaptation of Wicked. If Erivo’s rendition of “When You Wish Upon a Star” ⏤ teased in the trailer ⏤ is the first time you’ve ever heard her sing, then you’re in for quite a treat.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jiminy Cricket
Of course, there’s no Pinocchio without his conscience, Jiminy Cricket. In the new movie, the lovable green sidekick will be voiced by fan-favorite actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Gordon-Levitt is known for his roles in such movies as 10 Things I Hate About You and 500 Days of Summer, as well as his role as the surprise Robin in The Dark Knight Rises. Playing the conscience of a young boy who must always be good and tell the truth will be an interesting shift from some of his other roles, but if there’s anyone who can (and will) sprinkle his unique dose of magic into the role, it’s the always-lovable Gordon-Levitt.
Luke Evans as The Coachman
As one of the multiple villains in Pinocchio, Luke Evans will be playing The Coachman, who is known for luring children to “Treasure Island” to turn them into donkeys and sell them. Talk about dark, Disney! This isn’t Evans’ first time in a villainous role, as he previously played Gaston in Disney’s live-action reboot of Beauty and the Beast, a performance that many fans can attest he knocked out of the park. Though easy-on-the-eyes Evans will be donning bushy black hair as the Coachman, we’re hoping he gets a solo number to show off his impressive vocal chops ⏤ even if it couldn’t possibly hope to beat his iconic rendition of “Gaston.”
Keegan-Michael Key as Honest John
Voicing another of the villains is comedian and actor Keegan-Michael Key. Best known for his work on Key and Peele and, most recently, Apple TV’s Schmigadoon, he’s become a respected actor over the past few years. His character Honest John is a sly fox who is known to steal and swindle people out of their money. He’s the one responsible for getting Pinocchio into Stromboli’s puppet house, recognizing that the cash prize for selling Stromboli a perfect puppet will be great. Now that Key has played a variety of likable characters in recent years, we’ll see how he does at playing bad!
Benjamin Evan Ainsworth as Pinocchio
Finally, we come to the star himself, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, who will be lending his voice to Pinocchio. Though only 13 years old, Ainsworth has already appeared in big-name projects like The Haunting of Bly Manor and another Disney project, Flora and Ulysses. Though his IMDb page says that he’ll only be voicing Pinocchio, we have to imagine that when he inevitably turns into a real boy, we’ll see Ainsworth as the human version of the puppet. (We’re not crying, you’re crying.)
Disney’s Pinocchio is set to release on Disney Plus on Sept. 8, 2022, in celebration of Disney Plus Day.