First Look at the Once-ler in 3D CGI Adaptation of THE LORAX [Updated]

     October 20, 2011


The first image of the eco-unfriendly Once-ler from the 3D CGI adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax has gone online.  In the book, the Once-ler’s face is never seen, probably because he’s meant as a stand-in for everyone responsible for abusing our natural resources (he’s also meant as a stand-in for all those bastards with spindly green arms).  But EW reports that in the new movie, “he’s a misguided, fresh-faced young man (voiced by Ed Helms), whose destructive actions warp not only his world, but eventually himself.”  That actually sounds kind of neat and reassuringly tragic.  Keep in mind that while Dr. Seuss’ book is filled with rhymes and colorful images, it ends where the only hope is a one-word message carved into a tree stump.

Hit the jump for a first look at the Once-ler and an explanation of how Illumination Entertainment came up with the design.  The film also features the voices of Danny DeVito, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Rob Riggle, and Betty White.  The Lorax opens in 3D on March 2, 2012. [Update: We've updated the article with high resolution versions of the images].


“[Seuss] gave us the clues on the page,” says The Lorax producer Christopher Meledandri, CEO of Illumination Entertainment, which has worked closely with the author’s estate and widow to begin adapting his books into animation.  Melandrani tells Entertainment Weekly:

“If there was a clear sign this character was something other than human, we would have abided by that,” says Meledandri. “But okay, he’s wearing gloves. You’re not going to put gloves on a monster.”

“The minute you make the Once-ler a monster, you allow the audience to interpret that the problem is caused by somebody who is different from me, and it ceases to be a story that is about all of us,” says Meledandri. “Then it’s a story about, ‘Oh I see, the person who led us into the predicament is not a person. It’s somebody very, very different.’ And so it takes you off the hook.”

And here’s a look at the movie-version of the Once-ler at the end of his days and closer to how he appears in the book.


Melandrani explains that they chose Helms for the voice because of his everyman quality, and says of the Once-ler:

“He’s pure of heart when we meet him. He has no nefarious agenda,” Meledandri adds. “He’s just going off to follow his path and seize his piece of the American dream. He’s in this frontier doing that, in this beautiful setting. Had he not been carried away by greed, everything would have gone okay.”

More than the new images, I find these comments incredibly encouraging.  Now the only question mark left is DeVito as the Lorax, since I always thought of the Lorax as a voice of sage wisdom as opposed to The Penguin.


  • brandon

    well you’ve obviously never seen War of the Roses nor Matilda.

  • Hulk

    Im a 20 year old guy that bench presses 285 and that scares the shit out of me

  • jymmmymack

    Yeah, I’m thinking DeVito as the narrator in Matilda.

  • Josh

    Whyyyyy can’t they just leave the classics alone! CGI will ruin The Lorax, just like it did with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The word originality is almost gone with movies these days.

    • Chris

      Not to be that guy, but narrative movies have been ripping off books literally since they began. Nothing has changed really. I agree with you on TMNT, though. that movie sucked hard. Also, Horton Hears a Who had a pretty solid CGI version come out a few years ago. Basing my expectations of The Lorax on that movie, I’d say it probably won’t be quite as bad as you expect. But, if you’re right and this movie does turn out bad, I will hastily return to this very page and swiftly serve my due apology, as I expect you would do for me; this is a gentleman’s comment section, no doubt. Cherio.

    • Norm

      well, dumdum, the lorax has actually never been done as a film so it cant be ruined-whorton hears a who turned out rally well so expect this oen to be great-its seuss’s best in my opinion…

      • Don

        I love how you call someone “dum dum” and then misspell about every other word. Whorton? rally? oen?
        And I am pretty sure he is referring to the classic animated version from back in the 70′s.

      • Hrothgar

        Wow, Norm. First of all, who says “dum dum” anymore? Second, agreed. You probably shouldn’t call anyone anything if you can’t write a coherent sentence.

  • hey809

    I love these CGI animated movies, they are visually stunning.

  • Norm

    haha-TMNT a classic???? thats funny

  • Hrothgar

    It really looks similar in style to Horton Hears a Who and while that says nothing of the writing, I am hopeful.

  • Guy

    It’s going to be really tough to listen to Danny Devito in this and not think of Frank from “Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and all of the despicable things that character has said and done haha. “I am the Lorax and I speak for the trees now check out this magnum condemn for my magnum schlong.” Look at that mustache, Wilford Brimley would have been perfect for this role! haha

  • donald

    The screenplay writer, some of the animation staff, and the director of the Lorax all worked on Horton. Which is why they have a similar look and feel to each other. The director of The Lorax was also the director of Despicable me, which is another good sign. I love the old lorax cartoon I rewatched it just a few months ago and it still hold up, but I am still looking forward to the new movie, plus I would rather have them do a CGI version instead of a live action one like cat in the hat or Grinch.

  • Once-lerwife

    Hating on the movie wont stop them from showing it plus im glad they put a face on the once-ler a deepened the plot, its a plot and story perfect for our day in age. The once-ler is just soo CUTE i cant help it^^ I hope we get to see more on how this wonderful sweet looking man becomes the tretcherous “villan”. CAN’T WAIT^<333

  • Stewart

    Well I loved Horton Hears a Who, so I have faith in this film. However, the trailer looked awful and I disagree with a lot of the voice casting. Will see how it pans out, so will definitely go see it.

  • Ashley

    i saw the lorax and i cant belive they turned the ugly green slimy arms once ler to a handsome young man ! ps. the titanc is coming in 3d in thearts on april 4 ! you should go see it !

  • Ashley

    the people who made the movie are libs because they said its not okay to have a buisniss but it is okay and the once ler s song how bad can i be? well its….. DUMB!

    • Sienna

      Well, I dont know what ‘libs’ are, but the movie never said that it wasnt okay to have a business. I mean come on, the moral of the story was written in plain black and white at the end of the movie:”Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not- Dr. Suess.” Nothing is going to change unless you are passionate and determined to make it change. The movie also showed that it’s important to take care of our environment (like Wall-e) or else we’ll end up paying for it later. Not to mention that you should think about the risks before you take action. Personally, i loved the once-ler’s song :3 it’s probably my favorite. And unike most songs that kids listen to, it has a meaning. Sometimes you have to look outside of what YOU see and think to REALLY see what’s going on. Also, people with the money make the world go ’round. which is most unfortunatelly true. Its a clip with music to progress the movie as well. I loved it and think it has SOOO many morals for people because sometimes we take all the little things forgranted (like trees…and air). Its so friendly and funny and cute. I dont think you can say anything bad about it because i doubt you can make a better version of it. (Please note: it’s not directed at YOU but people in general) And this is all my opinion…

  • Sam

    well, i dont know what ‘libs’ are but, the movie never said it wasn’t okay to have a business. The Moral of the story was written in plain black and white at the end: ‘Unless someone like you care a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.-Dr Suess’ So unless you’re passionate and determined to make a change and take action, nothing will happen. There are so many morals in the movie, like take care of our environment now or else we’ll be paying for it later, or think about the concequences and risks before you do anything, or you have to look at the BIG PICTURE ( beyond what YOU see/ fill in another person’s shoes) to understand what’s going on and what you are actually doing. The once-ler’s song : How bad can i be? is AMAZING! it’s probably my favorite. Unlike most modern songs, it has a meaning. it clearly says that ‘people with the money make the world go ’round’ which is unfortunately true. It also shows the once-lers opinion of what he’s doing and the Lorax’s view of what he’s doing. 2 in 1 AMAZING! :3 the whole film is so cute and funny and friendly. I dont know, but people shouldnt negatively criticize because i doubt any of them could remake this film(with only the story as reference) better than the people who made it (hope that makes does in my head) Anyhow, this is all my own opinion.
    -You dont know me, but my name’s Sam. I’m just the OHare Air Delivery man (I’m a girl -___-)