The rambunctious little rabbit at the center of Sony’s latest animated comedy might be new to some viewers, but Peter Rabbit should be no stranger to most. He sprang from the mind of Beatrix Potter, author and illustrator of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, published in 1902. The book spawned sequels and merchandise centering on Peter Rabbit, who has been a recognizable character for over a century.
Now the film Peter Rabbit, a mix of live action and CG animation, follows the adventurous rabbit and his sisters as they try to snatch vegetables from the McGregor farm. Simple, right? Unfortunately Thomas McGregor, played by Domhnall Gleeson, has issues with critters and goes to great lengths to keep them out. Tension between Peter and McGregor grows as they each try to win the affections of Bea, the animal lover next door, played by Rose Byrne.
Sam Neil rounds out the live-action cast as Mr. McGregor, the father of Thomas. If those names aren’t impressive enough, there is a star-studded cast providing voices for the animated animals.
The voice behind Peter should be familiar to avid late night viewers. James Corden, the host of The Late Late Show on CBS, brings the furry rebel. Corden’s version of Peter remains true to the lovable nature of the classic creature. That charm may work on his sisters and neighbor Bea, but the McGregor family doesn’t fall for his mischievous manner. Corden has recently voiced characters in Trolls, The Emoji Movie, and has a part in the upcoming animated film Smallfoot.
Debecki voices the eldest of Peter’s three sisters, Mopsy, described as the stubborn and spunky one of the group. The Australian actress is best known for her roles in The Great Gatsby, Everest, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. This time around, she is trading in a rigorous set schedule and extensive makeup for a more comfortable stint in the voice booth.
Elizabeth Debicki is joined by fellow Aussie Margot Robbie, who voices Flopsy, the middle sister. Peter Rabbit marks Robbie’s first time voicing an animated character. Flopsy is an anxious type with a prominent lisp, and Robbie spoke about the character in a recent interview with Collider:
You also can understand where her frustration comes from sometimes, if she can’t actually articulate herself, in the way that she wants to. More than that, she’s trying to win the status quo with her sisters sometimes. I grew up in a big family with lots of brothers and sisters, and I love that dynamic of, “Who gets the front seat? Who’s the oldest?” I could relate to it. I had a lot of fun with that. I’m the third of four, so I know what it’s like to try to find the power play in that dynamic.
This film serves as a reunion for Robbie and Gleeson, as the pair starred together the 2017 film Goodbye Christopher Robin.
The youngest sibling of the bunch, Cottontail, is voiced by Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley. Cottontail is the unpredictable one, referred to as a “loose cannon.” Even as Ridley’s stardom continues to rise, this marks her debut providing voice work for an animated feature film. Peter Rabbit also gives Ridley another chance at facing off against Gleeson as the two are on opposing sides in Star Wars.
Fans can’t have Peter Rabbit without Benjamin Bunny. The character was the focus of the Peter Rabbit book sequel written by Beatrix Potter, and will play a role in the film. Benjamin is Peter’s clumsy cousin who gets swept up into the neighboring feud. Here, he’s voiced by Matt Lucas, the English comic best known for his roles in Shaun of the Dead, Bridesmaids, and Paddington.
Last but not least we have a hedgehog named Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle played by Australian singer, Sia. Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle seems to be one of a number of creatures who interested in the McGregor farm. The music superstar Sia has also been involved with films as an actor, previously lending her voice to a character named Songbird Serenade in My Little Pony: The Movie. Talk about a jack of all trades.
As the film looks to bring the lovable characters created by Potter into the latest form of live-action and animation, one could only hope the the messages that made the books so memorable remain the same. Peter Rabbit hops into theaters throughout the U.S. on February 9th, 2018.