Oscar-winner Ben Kingsley is to voice the black panther Bagheera in the forthcoming Disney adaptation of The Jungle Book.
Jon Favreau’s live-action remake of the 1967 animated classic already boasts a stellar cast, including Luther star Idris Elba as the voice of terrifying tiger Shere Khan, as well as Scarlett Johansson and Lupita Nyong’o.
And now Kingsley, well-known for his roles in Gandhi and Schindler’s List, is set to add some additional star clout to the movie based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling.
The script, which is being written by Justin Marks, centres on a boy named Mowgli, who is raised by animals in the jungle. Bagheera serves as the child’s mentor and best friend, protecting him from the dangers of the wild, including the carnivorous Shere Khan.
Most of the animals will be computer-generated, but Disney is reportedly searching for a mixed race actor to play Mowgli.
Disney has competition as far as The Jungle Book is concerned. Warner Bros are busy working on a rival version, but the studio is still looking for a director after Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu dropped out.
Ron Howard is being rumoured as a possible replacement to bring Callie Kloves’ script to life. Both studios are able to produce the film because Kipling’s book is in the public domain.