The cast of Disney’s “The Jungle Book” with their on-screen character have just been released. The movie, which will be released in April features Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o, Sir Ben Kingsley, Christopher Walken and Giancarlo Esposito. Each image pairs the actor with their on-screen character.
Voiced by Idris Elba, Shere Khan bears the scars of man, which fuel his hatred of humans. Convinced that Mowgli poses a threat, the bengal tiger is determined to rid the jungle of the man-cub. “Shere Khan reigns with fear,” says Elba. “He terrorizes everyone he encounters because he comes from a place of fear.”
Lupita Nyong’o voices Raksha, a mother wolf who cares deeply for all of her pups–including man-cub Mowgli, whom she adopts as one of her own when he’s abandoned in the jungle as an infant. “She is the protector, the eternal mother,” says Nyong’o. “The word Raksha actually means protection in Hindi. I felt really connected to that, wanting to protect a son that isn’t originally hers but one she’s taken for her own.”
Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) is a massive python who uses her voice and hypnotic gaze to entrance Mowgli. The man-cub can’t resist her captivating embrace. “Kaa seduces and entraps Mowgli with her storytelling,” says Johansson. “She’s the mirror into Mowgli’s past. The way she moves is very alluring, almost coquettish.”
King Louie (Christopher Walken) is a formidable ape who desperately wants the secret of Man’s deadly “red flower”–fire. He’s convinced Mowgli has the information he seeks. “King Louie is huge–12 feet tall,” says Walken. “But he’s as charming as he is intimidating when he wants to be.”
Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) is the strong and hardened alpha-male wolf who shoulders the responsibility of his pack. He welcomes Mowgli to the family, but worries he may one day compromise their safety. “Akela is a fierce patriarch of the wolf pack,” says voice actor Esposito. “He believes the strength of the pack lies in what each and every wolf offers. He’s a great leader, a wise teacher.”
Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) is a sleek panther who feels it’s his duty to help the man-cub depart with dignity when it’s time for him to leave his jungle home. “Bagheera is Mowgli’s adoptive parent,” says Kingsley. “His role in Mowgli’s life is to educate, to protect and to guide. My Bagheera was military–he’s probably a colonel. He is instantly recognizable by the way he talks, how he acts and what his ethical code is.”
“The Jungle Book” was originally a book written by Rudyard Kipling. The collection of stories was published in 1894. Kipling was born in India and lived there for the first six years of his life. The stories were written while Kipling was living in Vermont. In 1967, Disney released an animated feature film by the same name, inspired by Kipling’s stories. The movie was a hit and included five original songs by the Sherman Brothers. Disney’s new version of “The Jungle Book” is in theaters April 15, 2016.