Oscar-winner Ben Kingsley is a veritable chameleon on screen, but he won’t have to adjust his appearance one bit in order to voice Bagheera in Jon Favreau’s live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book. However, that doesn’t mean Kingsley hasn’t put any thought into just which voice he’ll use to bring the svelte black panther/Indian leopard to life. Author Rudyard Kipling described Bagheera’s voice in his story as “soft as wild honey dripping from a tree,” but Kingsley had his own interpretation. He revealed as much at D23 alongside Favreau and Neel Sethi, who stars as Mowgli.
Also featuring the voice talents of Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Bill Murray as Baloo, Christopher Walken as King Louie, Lupita Nyong’o as Raksha, and Giancarlo Esposito as Akela, Disney’s The Jungle Book opens in theaters April 15, 2016.
See what Kingsley had to say about voicing Bagheera in The Jungle Book below (via Yahoo!):
In case you missed it, or were simply hypnotized by Kingsley’s dulcet tones, here’s what he said:
“I offered an Indian accent to Jon for my Bagheera, and we debated it, and then we thought, ‘No — actually, it’s more British,’ and then I leaned towards a military Brit to have authority, discipline, command, and then underneath that of course, tremendous loyalty and affection.”
It sounds like Kingsley’s version of Bagheera will differ slightly from Sebastian Cabot’s version of the character in Disney’s 1967 animated feature. Though also British, Cabot’s Bagheera was more of a friendly caretaker of Mowgli and also served as the film’s narrator. Kingsley’s authoritative take on the character suggests that he might be a bit more standoffish than the animated version. Whether or not he narrates remains to be seen.
Watch and listen to an example of Cabot’s Bagheera in action from Disney’s animated film below:
For more on our coverage of The Jungle Book, take a look at some recent articles:
- ‘Pete’s Dragon’ & ‘The Jungle Book’: Disney’s Live-Action Remakes Blend Melancholy with Cutting-Edge Effects
- ‘The Jungle Book’: First Poster Features Mowgli Staring Down a Jungle Cat
- D23 2015 to Unveil First Looks at FINDING DORY, JUNGLE BOOK, and More