Yes, you read that headline correctly. Andy Serkis, the actor best known for his performance capture work in movies like The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies as Gollum, King Kong as Kong (and also in the non-performance capture role of Lumpy), Rise of the Planet of the Apes as Caesar, and The Adventures of Tintin as Captain Haddock, has been hired to direct a live-action adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book for Warner Brothers.
If the project sounds familiar, it’s because Walt Disney is also doing their own competing live-action take on the story they turned into the 1967 animated classic. That version will be directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Elf) and star Idris Elba as the villainous tiger Shere Khan.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel, Amores Perros) was once attached to direct the movie for WB, but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts before Serkis was brought in.
Though the fact that Serkis has no directorial experience on his resume may make this news sound a bit odd, the actor has been learning from one of the best. Serkis has worked closely with Peter Jackson on many films now, and even acted as his second unit director on The Hobbit trilogy. It also would not be at all surprising if he suited up for one of the anthropomorphic animal characters, which will likely be made using performance capture.
The adaptation is scripted by Callie Kloves, the daughter of Harry Potter writer Steve Kloves, who is also involved as a producer and was once attached to direct.
Warner Bros. is planning to make a darker adaptation of Kipling’s story, sticking closer to his original work. Whereas Disney, of course, will be aiming for more of a family friendly final product.
What do you think of Andy Serkis making his directorial debut on a live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book? Which character would you like to see him play if he does in fact play one?