Robert Downey Jr. considers Dolittle to be one of his most important films, but not for the reason you might be thinking.
On paper, Dolittle must have felt like a sure thing. The big-screen adaptation of Hugh Lofting’s classic Dolittle character was Robert Downey Jr.’s first major project after he exited the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, despite grossing over $250 million worldwide, Dolittle was considered a box-office bomb and a critical disappointment, but Robert Downey Jr. still considers it to be one of the most important films he’s ever made.
Robert Downey Jr. reflected on the failure of Dolittle in a recent New York Times profile. “I finished the Marvel contract and then hastily went into what had all the promise of being another big, fun, well-executed potential franchise in Dolittle,” Downey Jr. explained. “I had some reservations. Me and my team seemed a little too excited about the deal and not quite excited enough about the merits of the execution. But at that point I was bulletproof. I was the guru of all genre movies.“
While Dolittle obviously didn’t turn out how Robert Downey Jr. imagined, he added that he considers the movie to be a very important addition to his filmography. “Honestly, the two most important films I’ve done in the last 25 years are The Shaggy Dog, because that was the film that got Disney saying they would insure me,” Downey Jr. said. “Then the second most important film was Dolittle, because Dolittle was a two-and-a-half-year wound of squandered opportunity.” So why was Dolittle so important? Because it helped the actor reconsider how he picked his projects moving forward. “After that point — what’s that phrase? Never let a good crisis go to waste,” Downey Jr. said. “We had this reset of priorities and made some changes in who our closest business advisers were.” A lesson learned, but an expensive lesson to be sure.
In addition to Robert Downey Jr., Dolittle featured quite the star-studded cast, with Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Craig Robinson, Ralph Fiennes, Selena Gomez, Marion Cotillard, and more supplying the voices of the animals. The film had a tumultuous production, with several weeks of reshoots taking place after poor test screenings.
Robert Downey Jr. will next be seen starring alongside Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, and Matt Damon in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, which will hit theaters on July 21st.