Watch: The voice of Pinocchio says the job was 'a dream come true'
Pinocchio star Benjamin Evan Ainsworth didn’t exactly wish upon a star for his latest role – but he suspects that being the voice of the world’s most famous puppet was meant to be.
Talking to Yahoo as the latest version of much-loved classic Pinocchio debuts on Disney+, the British actor revealed he’d already watched the 1940 animation well before the possibility of a part in the film came along.
“I watched it once or twice before,” he remembered. “I saw it with my family.”
Read more: All the Disney+ Day debuts
And he agreed that perhaps the role he describes as 'a dream come true' was meant to be. “When you wish upon a star, right?” he quips.
Studying the original movie was all part of his research for being the voice of the puppet who wanted to be a boy and he was determined that his version should pay tribute to the first one.
“I thought it was very important to keep it faithful to Dickie Jones’ voice – that voice IS Pinocchio – so I watched the movie over and over again and tried different pitches and volumes. Then I got it to a place where I liked it and put some of my own energy into it.” He also gave up his natural Yorkshire accent to sound more like Jones.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis, Disney’s live action re-make of Pinocchio is rooted in Carlo Collodi’s story from the 1880s, with lonely woodworker Geppetto carving a puppet in the shape of a boy to replace his much-missed son.
Read more: Disney+ offering £1.99 subscription
The Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo) weaves her magic over the marionette so that he no longer needs his strings to walk and can talk as well. He desperately wants 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.
This is Ainsworth’s second film for Disney — he starred along Ben Schwarz in Oscar And Ulysses (2021) — and he’s also currently in the Netflix hit series The Sandman.
In Pinocchio, his live action co-stars are Tom Hanks as Geppetto, Cynthia Erivo as The Blue Fairy and Jaquita Ta’le as newcomer, Sabrina, a sympathetic puppeteer. The film’s voice cast includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jiminy Cricket, Keegan-Michael Key as “Honest” John and Lorraine Bracco as another new character, Sofia the seagull.
Pinocchio is the latest Disney live action re-make of a classic animation and there are more to come. Although a release date hasn’t been confirmed, Peter Pan is still expected to debut this year. With Jude Law as Captain Hook, it’s directed by David Lowery, who returns to Disney for the first time after his 2016 version of Pete’s Dragon.
Due in March 2023 is The Little Mermaid, with studio regular Rob Marshall at the helm and a starry cast including Javier Bardem, Melissa McCarthy, Awkwafina and Jacob Tremblay.
Pinocchio is now streaming exclusively on Disney+. Watch a clip below.