[Update, 3 p.m.: Ricky Gervais’ casting is now confirmed. He’ll voice the villainous Ika Chu, the “Fursace”-clad bad cat who plans to rid Kakamucho of its feline inhabitants and has an insatiable appetite for power. TheWrap’s earlier exclusive is below.]
Golden Globe winner Ricky Gervais is in talks to join the all-star voice cast of “Blazing Samurai,” an animated family comedy from Mass Animation, Huayi Brothers Media Corporation, Flying Tigers Entertainment and GFM Films, TheWrap has learned.
Mel Brooks, Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Cera lead the vocal ensemble, which also includes George Takei, Gabriel Iglesias, Aasif Mandvi, Djimon Hounsou, Michelle Yeoh, Sandra Tsing Loh, Mel B., and newcomer Heavenly Joy Jerkins.
“Blazing Samurai” is equally inspired by and an homage to Mel Brooks‘ timeless comedy classic “Blazing Saddles.” The story follows a scrappy dreamer of a dog named Hank (Cera) who longs to become a great warrior and fights to save his hometown from becoming the litter box of a nefarious feline warlord, transforming society and himself on his quest to become a true samurai.
Gervais’ role remains a well-guarded samurai secret, but Jackson will voice a cat named Jimbo, a once-great warrior who reluctantly takes Hank under his paw. Forging an unusual friendship between a cat and a dog, the two set off on a wild journey to save the town of Kakamucho.
While Gervais hasn’t closed a deal, his name is included in an ad for “Blazing Samurai” that can be seen in Wednesday’s edition of Screen International. A representative for the actor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
GFM Films is handling international sales and will introduce the project to buyers at AFM. Open Road Films will release the film in the U.S. on Aug. 4, 2017.
Chris Bailey (“Alvin and the Chipmunks”) and Mark Koetsier (“Kung Fu Panda”) are directing “Blazing Samurai” from a screenplay by Ed Stone and Nate Hopper. “The Lion King” director Rob Minkoff is producing with Mass Animation founder/president Yair Landau and Susan Purcell. Brooks will executive produce with Reginald Hudlin (“Django Unchained”) and Pietro Ventani.
Best known for his star turns on “The Office,” “Extras” “Life’s Too Short” and “Derek,” Gervais just wrapped the Netflix original movie “Special Correspondents,” which he wrote, directed and stars in alongside Eric Bana. The beloved British comedian recently lent his voice to “The Little Prince.”
Gervais is represented by WME, United Agents, MHA Management and the law firm of Nelson Davis.