Warner Bros. and director Andy Serkis have found their first piece of cast for their adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic The Jungle Book, now officially titled Jungle Book: Origins. As reported exclusively by The Hollywood Reporter, Benedict Cumberbatch has come aboard to provide the voice of Shere Khan, the man-eating tiger who proves to be the villain of the story.
This is Serkis’s first stab at directing, after years spent in the world of motion capture technology, playing the famous role of Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as lead ape Caesar in the recent Planet of the Apes franchise. He has spent the past few years learning the craft as the second unit director on The Hobbit trilogy. As we reported earlier, Serkis got the job directing Jungle Book: Origins after talks with Ron Howard and Alejandro González Iñárritu fell through.
This Warner Bros. version will be darker in tone compared to the general public perception of the story, as it will skew more faithfully to Kipling’s short stories than previous Disney versions. Speaking of Disney, not coincidentally, they are working on a new movie version of The Jungle Book of their own, as covered previously here at mxdwn. Their version, which will be a live-action/CG hybrid, will be directed by Jon Favreau (Chef) and have Idris Elba (Pacific Rim) in the role to be voiced by Cumberbatch in the Warner Bros. movie.
Jungle Book: Origins will not be the first time Serkis and Cumberbatch have collaborated, as the two previously worked together on The Hobbit trilogy of films. It appears to be an exciting year ahead for Cumberbatch, as he has The Imitation Game coming out this fall, which is already garnering awards buzz for the London-born actor, as well as next year’s Whitey Bulger biopic, Black Mass, in which he stars alongside Johnny Depp.