British actor Dan Stevens, known for his appearances in “Downton Abbey” and “Beauty and the Beast,” is joining the next animated feature from the director of “How to Train Your Dragon.” Though his precise role has not yet been detailed, Dan Stevens is on board for the animated adaptation of Jack London’s classic 1903 adventure novel, “The Call of the Wild.”
Set in northwest Canada at the end of the 19th century, the book follows Buck, a sizable dog with wealthy owners, who is plunged into a series of increasingly dangerous escapades after being kidnapped and sold to a succession of different owners.
Harrison Ford is already involved as John Thornton, an expert traveler, leaving several prominent roles that could have gone Stevens’ way, from Buck’s owners to the large, loyal canine himself.
As such, Stevens follows Ford as one of the animated movie’s first casting announcements ahead of a proposed December 2019 release.
Director Chris Sanders, previously of “Lilo & Stitch,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” and “The Croods,” each of which he was also involved with creating, is working from a screenplay adaptation by Michael Green of X-Men spin-off “Logan,” cyberpunk sequel “Blade Runner 2049,” and Neil Gaiman-derived series “American Gods.”
As well as “Call of the Wild,” Stevens has several other projects on the go, not least of which is another X-Men spin-off, TV series “Legion.”
There’s Netflix’s Gareth Evans religious cult thriller “Apostle,” which is due September 2018, then 2019 punk rock drama “Her Smell” with Elisabeth Moss and Amber Heard, and an undated return-to-earth astronaut sci-fi “Pale Blue Dot” which has Natalie Portman, Zazie Beetz and Jon Hamm among its leads.
The Chris Sanders animation isn’t the only “Call of the Wild” adaptation in the pipeline, as in late 2017 Canadian director Christian Duguay (“Scanners II,” “The Art of War”) had teamed up with two French production companies to make a live-action version.
Harrison Ford takes on a role previously inhabited by Clark Gable (in 1935) and Charlton Heston (1972.)