March 21 (UPI) -- Robert Downey Jr. has signed on to star in The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, based on the character from the 1920s children's books by Hugh Lofting.
The film, according to The Hollywood Reporter, was secured by Universal after a bidding war took place between multiple studios.
Downey is stepping into the title role in the film which will see the actor communicate with animals.
Set to be directed by Stephen Gaghan (Syriana), the project is based on a script he wrote from an earlier draft penned by Tom Shepherd.
Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum are producing alongside Downey's wife Susan Downey.
Doctor Dolittle was first seen onscreen in 1967's Doctor Dolittle starring Rex Harrison. A more modern take was released in 1998 starring Eddie Murphy that resulted in four sequels with some entrries going direct-to-video.
Downey will next be seen reprising his role as Iron Man in Marvel and Sony's upcoming superhero epic, Spider-Man:Homecoming which releases in theaters July.