Benedict Cumberbatch is everywhere you look these days. The British actor is not only playing the lead role in Marvel Studios’ upcoming Doctor Strange, but is also prepping a return as the star of BBC’s Sherlock series.
And now he’s the subject of yet another high-profile casting announcement.
Universal Pictures has revealed that Cumberbatch will voice the titular Christmas-hating villain in an upcoming, animated remake of the Dr. Seuss story How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
The studio made the announcement during its presentation at this week’s CinemaCon event in Las Vegas, with the CEO of Illumination Entertainment — the animation studio that has a partnership with Universal — delivering the news about the project and its star.
The new version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas will feature the directing duo of Pete Candeland, who directed several music videos for the band Gorillaz and also served in the animation department for 1995’s Balto and 1997’s Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, and Yarrow Cheney, the co-director of Universal’s upcoming animated feature The Secret Life of Pets. The film, which is currently scheduled to hit theaters in 2017, is expected to be a reimagined adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ beloved story that was first published in 1957.
The role won’t be the first prominent voice-acting performance for Cumberbatch, who recently provided the voice (and some motion-capture performance) for the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit trilogy of live-action films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy saga.
While the upcoming How the Grinch Stole Christmas will certainly benefit from the involvement of Cumberbatch, one of the most acclaimed actors — and voices — in Hollywood right now, it will have to contend with the legacy of the original, animated feature based on the classic story of a villain who learns to appreciate Christmas only after attempting to ruin it for the townspeople of a nearby village.
The animated television movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas first aired in 1966 and featured the signature voice of monster-movie star Boris Karloff as both the film’s narrator and the voice of The Grinch (with Thurl Ravenscroft taking over voice duties for the songs). Directed by Oscar-winning animator Chuck Jones, the film is widely regarded as one of greatest holiday movies ever made.
The announcement of the new version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas also comes 16 years after Jim Carrey played The Grinch in a live-action adaptation of the story released in 2000. Although critically panned, the film went on to earn $285.7 million in U.S. theaters, making it the second-highest grossing Christmas movie of all time (after Home Alone).
How the Grinch Stole Christmas is scheduled to hit theaters November 10, 2017.