New voice of Pinocchio was 'starstruck' meeting Tom Hanks

Watch: Benjamin Evan Ainsworth talks to Yahoo about Pinocchio

The young British actor behind the new voice of Pinocchio has revealed he was completely 'starstruck' when he met his co-stars on the set of Disney’s latest re-make.

13-year-old Benjamin Evan Ainsworth spent a lot of time in the recording studio when he started work on the film, which was released this week on Disney+.

But, speaking to Yahoo, he also described how he visited the set and met the film’s director, Robert Zemeckis, as well as Tom Hanks who plays Pinocchio’s father, Geppetto.

Read more: Everything new on Disney+ in September

“I was definitely star struck when I met them!” he said.

(L-R): Pinocchio (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) with Tom Hanks as Geppetto in Pinocchio. (Disney)
(L-R): Pinocchio (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) with Tom Hanks as Geppetto in Pinocchio. (Disney)

“For a read through I was sat at this table and Tom Hanks came in and sat down to my left. Then Robert Zemeckis was on my right and I remember everybody round the table talking about past movies that Tom and Robert had worked on together, and past Disney movies they all loved. Listening to those stories was so cool.”

Pinocchio is the fourth time Hanks and Zemeckis have worked together. They first joined forces for the Oscar winning Forrest Gump (1994), as well as making Castaway (2000) and The Polar Express (2004) together.

BURBANK, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 07: (L-R) Luke Evans, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Tom Hanks, Cynthia Erivo, and Robert Zemeckis attend the Pinocchio world premiere at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California on September 07, 2022. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Disney)
(L-R) Luke Evans, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Tom Hanks, Cynthia Erivo, and Robert Zemeckis at the Pinocchio premiere. (Getty Images for Disney)

This new re-working of the classic story combines live actors with CGI and sees Zemeckis further exploring the interest in special effects that we saw most recently in Welcome To Marwen (2018).

Based on Carlo Collodi’s story from the 1880s, and leaning heavily on Disney’s 1940 much-loved animation, the film sees woodworker Geppetto carving a puppet in the shape of a boy to replace his son.

Read more: Being the voice of Pinocchio was 'a dream come true'

The Blue Fairy weaves her magic so that the marionette no longer needs strings to walk and he also finds he’s able to speak. Longing to be a real boy and, guided by friend and conscience, Jiminy Cricket, he learns the ways of the world and finds that, despite all the obstacles in his way, his heart is true and brave.

(L-R): Cynthia Erivo as the Blue Fairy, Pinocchio (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), and Jiminy Cricket (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Disney's live-action PINOCCHIO, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Disney Enterprises, Inc. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
(L-R): Cynthia Erivo as the Blue Fairy with Pinocchio, voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth. (Disney)

Ainsworth found that providing the voice of the title character also took him onto the set so that he was involved in the live action side of the film. “I was behind the cameras, feeding my lines to all the actors on the set, so I met most of the live action actors. And I saw how CGI, live action and special effect all came together. It was really cool,” he recalled.

Alongside Ainsworth and Hanks, Pinocchio stars Cynthia Erivo and Luke Evans, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt providing the voice of Jiminy Cricket and Keegan-Michael Key voicing “Honest” John.

While a release date has yet to be confirmed, the next in Disney’s series of re-makes is likely to arrive later this year. Peter Pan will star Jude Law as Captain Hook and is directed by David Lowery. And the new version of The Little Mermaid is slated for March of next year. Director Rob Marshall has gathered together an impressive cast that includes Javier Bardem, Melissa McCarthy, Awkwafina and Jacob Tremblay.

Pinocchio is streaming on Disney+. Watch the trailer below.