Zooey Deschanel Joins Zachary Levi in Harold and the Purple Crayon

Zooey Deschanel has joined the cast of Harold and the Purple Crayon, where she will appear alongside Zachary Levi and Lil Rey Howery in the live-action adaptation of the beloved children's book. The story, which centers on a four-year-old boy who creates imaginary worlds with his crayon, was originally published in 1955, and was written by Crockett Johnson. The book proved popular enough to launch a whole series of Harold sequels. He was also a cartoonist who created the strip Barnaby for ten years in the 1940s and 1950s.

Oscar nominee Carlos Saldanha will direct the film from a screenplay by Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb creative team David Guion and Michael Handelman. John Davis (Dolemite Is My Name) is producing through Davis Entertainment. This will be the latest adaptation of the series, which was first brought to life as animated short films in 1959, 1971, and 1974, and a 13-episode HBO series in 2002, which was narrated by Sharon Stone.

In January, The Cosmic Circus reported that What We Do in the Shadows's Jermaine Clement would also join the cast of Harold and the Purple Crayon.

The film will follow on the heels of Levi's next turn as the DC hero Shazam in Shazam!: Fury of the Gods. The film, which also stars Rachel Zegler, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, and more. Deschanel's next film appearance will be in Dreamin' Wild alongside Walton Goggins and Jack Dylan Grazer.

Harold and the Purple Crayon is one of those properties that has been licensed a few times, but failed to make it all the way to the screen. At one point, Steven Spielberg and Will Smith were attached to the project.

The Hollywood Reporter first officially reported Deschanel's casting.

Should the film be a hit, there is plenty of opportunity for follow-ups. After Harold and the Purple Crayon, the character of Harold appeared in six more books -- Harold's Fairy Tale, Harold's Trip to the Sky, Harold at the North Pole, Harold's Circus, A Picture for Harold's Room, and Harold's ABC. Of course, some elements of those may be adapted into the first film, since books aimed at young children are notoriously hard to make into feature films.

Production for Harold and the Purple Crayon is now underway, with a targeted release date of January 27, 2023.