Matthew Rhys (TV’s The Americans) is in talks to star in Jungle Book: Origins, according to Deadline. The movie is billed as a gritty retelling of Rudyard Kipling’s famous novel. Rhys would play John Lockwood.
Rhys has received wide acclaim for his performance as 1980’s Soviet spy Philip Jennings on The Americans, which was recently renewed for a fourth season. He’s also in the upcoming cooking comedy Adam Jones with Bradley Cooper, Lilly James, and Sienna Miller.
Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) joined the project back in August to do the voice and performance capture work for the tiger, Shere Khan. Andy Serkis (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) will do similar work as the bear, Baloo. Serkis is also directing the film, his directorial debut. Christian Bale (The Dark Knight) is playing the panther Bagheera, while Cate Blanchett (Cinderella) is doing the voice work for the snake, Kaa. Serkis took over directing duties after Ron Howard left the project.
The movie is in indirect competition with Disney’s own live action version of the movie that’s being directed by Jon Favreau and stars Scarlett Johannson, Bill Murray and Lupita Nyong’o. Warner Bros. recently moved Serkis’ movie from its fall 2016 release to 2017, presumably to give the movie more room to breathe after Disney’s film releases in the fall.