Ready your best Christopher Walken impression and dust off your “Breaking Bad” box set: Christopher Walken and Giancarlo Esposito are heading to the jungle. Disney’s live-action/animation hybrid reimagining of Rudyard Kipling’s classic story already has Jon Favreau directing, Idris Elba voicing Shere Khan, Scarlett Johansson and Lupita Nyong’o as Kaa and Rakcha (respectively), Sir Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, and newcomer Neel Sethi as Mowgli, the only live-action character in the film. A press release from Disney reveals that Walken will provide the voice of King Louie, the ruler of a troop of monkeys and apes, while Esposito will voice Akela, the leader of the wolf pack.
Walken has done voiceover work for a handful of video games and the animated feature Antz, but it’s beyond me why studios don’t utilize his unique delivery in more movies; his bizarre, off-kilter screen persona isn’t the first thing I think of when I think of King Louie, but I have a feeling his performance could become the most iconic in the character’s history. Can you imagine what it’d be like if he sings “I Wanna Be Like You”?
Esposito has been acting for decades but only recently became a pop culture staple thanks to his incredible work as Gus Fring in “Breaking Bad.” He’s also done voicework for video games and animated features, but while Walken wouldn’t be the first person I’d think to voice an ape leader, Esposito actually is one of the first people that’d pop into my head when casting a wolf. He has a great baritone, and should provide a nice sense of menace on screen. This cast just keeps getting better and better – it’s turning into a who’s who of great Hollywood voice talent. Let’s see if Favreau can snag anyone else before The Jungle Book hits theaters on October 9th, 2015.
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