Two of Hollywood’s most alluring actresses are circling Disney’s upcoming re-imagining of The Jungle Book. The Hollywood Reporter broke the story that Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) and Scarlett Johansson are in negotiations to join the cast for the film to be directed by Jon Favreau from a screenplay by Justin Marks. The adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s immortal story is being envisioned as a live action/CGI hybrid flick following the adventures of Mowgli, an intrepid young orphan who maneuvers between animal friends and foes. Disney, of course, released the beloved 1967 animated version of the story. It’s a special property for Disney, considering the animated classic was the last of their canon to be personally supervised by Walt Disney himself.
Nyong’o is apparently in final negotiations to portray Rakcha, a mother wolf who adopts the young child, while Johansson is in talks to voice the villainous Kaa, the hypnotic snake. If this comes to fruition, both will join the already cast Idris Elba (Golden Globe nominee for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), who is already set to voice the main villain of the tale – the duplicitous Shere Khan. It may mark the highest profile role for Nyong’o since winning the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award last March, who has since appeared in a small part in Liam Neeson’s spring hit Non-Stop. Johansson, on the other hand, has been on a quite a roll recently. Since supplying her voice (to critical acclaim) in Best Picture nominee Her, she has wooed audiences in the currently blockbuster Captain America: The Winter Soldier as well as cinephiles with her role in the art house oddity Under the Skin. The actress will next appear in Favreau’s comedy Chef and the summer action flick Lucy. If she signs on to The Jungle Book, it would be her third collaboration with Favreau, as he directed her Black Widow debut in 2010’s Iron Man 2. No word yet has arisen on who will play the main character of Mowgli.
The film marks yet another Disney live action do-over of a their animated classics following the course set by the billion dollar gross of Tim Burton’s 2010 re-interpretation of their animated classic Alice in Wonderland. Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent, a live-action take on Sleeping Beauty follows, coming out next month and a new take on Cinderella (with Cate Blanchett as the villainous Lady Tremaine, directed by Kenneth Branaugh) is due next year. However, with The Jungle Book, things get a bit trickier with the Hollywood redoes, as Warner Bros. also has a live action take forthcoming with Andy Serkis slated to direct. The Kipling story has entered the public domain.
The Disney take is scheduled to be released on October 9, 2015.