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Voice Cast Announced for Animated ‘Tale of Despereaux’

The voice cast has been set for THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX, the 3D- animated feature from Universal Pictures, directed by stop-motion vet Mike Johnson (the Oscar-nominated CORPSE BRIDE), which marks the first production made by London-based Framestore Feature Animation, the new division of the Framestore CFC vfx studio.

Adapted from Kate DiCamillos award-winning childrens bestseller about one small mouses quest to change a kingdom, DESPEREAUX will offer the voice talents of:

* Robbie Coltrane (THE HARRY POTTER franchise) as the palace jailer, Gregory, who has a mysterious past and has suffered great loss in his life. He has given up hope of finding a long-lost family member, who may yet appear to him.

* Ciaran Hinds (MIAMI VICE) as the sinister leader of the sewer rats, Botticelli, who despises humans, the light and adores torture. The rat will prove to be a powerful adversary in the valiant quest of young Despereaux.

* Dustin Hoffman (MEET THE FOCKERS) as the good-hearted rat, Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. A misunderstood creature that thinks he is human, Roscuro doesn't understand why others run from him, as he just longs for understanding and to escape from the dark world of the rats.

* Kevin Kline (THE PINK PANTHER) as the king's royal cook, Andre, who works in the Kingdom of Dor's royal castle and is responsible for inventing a new soup each year for the citizens. He becomes very depressed when the king banishes soup from Dor after a very unfortunate accident, and he will provide aid on Despereaux's quest.

* Christopher Lloyd (BACK TO THE FUTURE franchise) as the old, blind mouse, Hovis, one of the few in the mouse world who understands Despereaux's enthusiasm and desire to shirk cowering and skittering from his life.

* Justin Long (ACCEPTED) as the brave and virtuous mouse, Despereaux, a diminutive fellow saddled with comically-oversized ears and who wheezes when he runs. Noble and brave, Despereaux is oblivious to the darkness and cynicism around him and will prove an unlikely hero whose quest is to shed light into the kingdom around him.

* William H. Macy (FARGO) as Despereaux's timid father, Lester. All Lester wants for his youngest child is to learn how to be a proper mouse, one who cowers, skitters and doesn't question a life lived in fear.

* Stanley Tucci (THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA) as Andre's ally in the kitchen, Boldo, an odd, seven-foot genie who proves a constant source of companionship (and annoyance) to Andre as they create delicious soups for Dor.

* Tracey Ullman (CORPSE BRIDE) as a slow-witted serving girl, Mig, who harbors a simple, impossible wish. A pig-herder whose father ridicules her daily, Mig desires nothing more than to become a princess and live the life she's always been denied.

* Sigourney Weaver (HOLES) as the Narrator, who speaks directly to the audience, guiding it through the story and drawing it further into the tiny mouse's big world.

THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX, due for a 2008 holiday release, is produced by four-time Academy Award nominee Gary Ross (BIG DAVE, SEABISCUIT) and Allison Thomas (SEABISCUIT) under their Larger Than Life Prods. banner.

"We are thrilled to be making our first animated feature for Universal, which has energetically renewed its commitment to animation," said Thomas. "We have assembled a spectacular voice cast that will bring to life the unforgettable characters and help convey the excitement, adventure and fun of this perfect gem of a book."

Once upon a time, in the faraway kingdom of Dor, there was magic in the air, raucous laughter aplenty and gallons of mouth-watering soup. But a terrible accident left the king broken-hearted, the princess filled with longing and the townsfolk despondent. All hope was lost in a land where sunlight disappeared and the world became dreary gray. Until Despereaux Tilling was born... A brave and virtuous mouse, Despereaux is simply too big for his small world. Though tiny, wheezy and saddled with comically oversized ears, Despereaux refuses to live a life of weakness and fear...believing he was destined to be celebrated in the tales of chivalry he so adores.

Universal Pictures, is a division of Universal Studios ( Universal Studios is a part of NBC Universal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi.

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Bill Desowitz, former editor of VFXWorld, is currently the Crafts Editor of IndieWire.