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Benedict Cumberbatch joins Jungle Book film as tiger Shere Khan

The Sherlock star will voice the villain that Idris Elba will tackle for Disney

He’s yet to take the ice bucket challenge that fans around the world are waiting for, but to ease the tension slightly, Benedict Cumberbatch has been cast as the villain in Warner Bros’ forthcoming adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.

The Sherlock star, 38, will take on the role of man-eating tiger Shere Khan in Jungle Book: Origins, according to industry insider The Hollywood Reporter.

The movie is set to go head-to-head with Disney’s live action and CGI remake of the Sixties animated classic.

Andy Serkis, known for his acclaimed motion capture performances in The Hobbit and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, will make his directorial debut for Warner Bros, while Jon Favreau is helming Disney’s rival.


Idris Elba is voicing Shere Khan for Favreau, whose film will hit cinemas first on 9 October 2015.

Other stars lined-up include Bill Murray as Baloo, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Lupita Nyong’o as Rakcha, Christopher Walken as King Louie and newcomer Neel Sethi as Mowgli, the boy brought up by animals in the Indian jungle.

Serkis’ version will follow a year later on 21 October 2016, and is expected to be darker, but the pressure is certainly on to match Disney’s efforts.

Video: Benedict Cumberbatch joins Jungle Book cast

Steve Cloves (Harry Potter) is producing while his daughter Callie Kloves is writing the script.

It is not the first time that the Cumberbatch will lend his voice to an animal, having played fearsome dragon Smaug in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and “super-duper-smooth” wolf Classified in Penguins of Madagascar.

The British actor is nominated for an Emmy at next week’s ceremony, and will next be seen playing World War II codebreaker Alan Turing alongside Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game.