Ben Kingsley Will Voice Bagheera in Disney’s ‘Jungle Book’

By June 25, 2014
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We’ve known for a long time that Disney was planning to create a new movie on Rudyard Kipling’s classic story The Jungle Book, and since the Mouse House created the most iconic film version of the tale with their 1967 animated classic, it only makes sense that a new take would remain at the studio.

Iron Man director Jon Favreau has been tapped to direct, Idris Elba is providing the voice of Shere Khan, and Scarlett Johansson and Lupita Nyong’o are voicing Kaa and Mowgli’s adopted wolf mother Rakcha, respectively. Today, Disney sent out a press release announcing one more new member of the cast, and this one is an Academy Award winner: Ben Kingsley will provide the voice of Bagheera the panther in the film. Sounds like solid casting to me; Sebastian Cabot gave Bagheera life in the original film, and Kingsley has his own gravitas and pathos in spades.

Ben Kingsley

Perhaps the most interesting element in the press release (to me, anyway) was the fact that this movie “combines live action and animated filmmaking.” I don’t know if that information was officially announced yet, but if it was, I missed it. How exactly is that going to work? Will a human Mowgli interact with animated animals? All of these actors are providing voiceovers, and I doubt very seriously they’re taking the Homeward Bound approach of giving live-action animals the ability to “speak.” Favreau is a fascinating guy with varied interests – his most recent film Chef was a metaphor for getting out of the blockbuster filmmaking game and back to his indie roots – so it’ll be cool to see him try something with a mixture of styles ala Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

The Jungle Book arrives in theaters in 3D on October 9, 2015

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Ben is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. His work has been featured at ScreenRant.com, FirstShowing.net, MySpace.com, GeekTyrant.com, and many more sites across the web. Some of his favorite movies include The Rocketeer, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tombstone, Lucky Number Slevin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Collateral, Double Indemnity, Back to the Future and The Prestige. Follow him on Twitter: @BenPears.