Watching the marketing campaign for Jon Favreau‘s The Jungle Book has been nothing but pure nostalgic joy. As we’ve seen through D23 Expo, the trailers, and the special laser projection presentation, Favreau intends to honor the memory of those who grew up with the original and make it appealing to a new generation. Though the film will incorporate lore from the animated film, as well as make a few nods through the use the Sherman Brothers’ music and songs like “The Bare Necessities.”
The film is a few weeks away from release, and Disney has released a special photo shoot of Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o, Sir Ben Kingsley, Christopher Walken, and Giancarlo Esposito paired with their onscreen characters. Check out the images below.
Along with the images, Disney has given us brief descriptions of the characters as well as quotes from the actors.
Elba, who voices Shere Khan, is described as a fearsome tiger whose hatred of man stems from his scarring previous encounters. “Shere Khan reigns with fear,” says Elba. “He terrorizes everyone he encounters because he comes from a place of fear.”
Raksha (Nyong’o), is a mother wolf who cares deeply for all of her pups–including man-cub Mowgli. “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.”
Johansson who voices the massive python who uses her hypnotic voice and gaze to entrance her prey, says of her character, “Kaa seduces and entraps Mowgli with her storytelling. She’s the mirror into Mowgli’s past. The way she moves is very alluring, almost coquettish.”
King Louie (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 Christopher Walken, who voices the character. “But he’s as charming as he is intimidating when he wants to be.”
Esposito, who voices Akela, is described as 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 Giancarlo Esposito, who voices the character. “He believes the strength of the pack lies in what each and every wolf offers. He’s a great leader, a wise teacher.”
Bagheera (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 Ben Kingsley, who lends his voice to Bagheera. “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 opens in theaters in 3D on April 15, 2016.
Here’s the official plot synopsis:
Directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”), based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and inspired by Disney’s classic animated film, “The Jungle Book” is an all-new live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi), a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (voice of Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (voice of Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo (voice of Bill Murray). Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (voice of Scarlett Johansson), a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (voice of Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire.
The all-star cast also includes Lupita Nyong’o as the voice of the fiercely protective mother wolf Raksha, and Giancarlo Esposito as the voice of wolf pack’s alpha male Akela. “The Jungle Book” seamlessly blends live-action with photorealistic CGI animals and environments, using up-to-the-minute technology and storytelling techniques to immerse audiences in an enchanting and lush world.