49 years after first lighting up cinemas with its timeless animated version, Disney are bringing Rudyard Kipling’s zoological collection of stories to life once again. Set for release next month, The Jungle Book will be a live action/CGI re-imagining of Kipling’s legendary works starring Bill Murray and Oscar winners Ben Kingsley and Lupita Nyong’o. Today, photographs have been released of the stars of the film posing with the respective animals they play in the film.
Here’s Ben Kingsley next to Bagheera. Panther, Bagheera acts as Mowgli’s adopted parent along with Baloo. “His role is to educate, to protect and to guide” the film’s protagonist, says Kingsley.
Raksha is voiced by Lupita Nyong’o – an Indian wolf, Raksha raises Mowgli from a young age after Bagheera brought him to the pack as a baby.
Idris Elba voices Shere Khan, the menacing Bengal tiger who appears to view all humans as threats – even young Mowgli. Elba has described his character as a creature “that reigns with fear, terrorising everyone he encounters because he comes from a place of fear.”
Scarlett Johansson is Kaa, a smooth-talking, story-telling python who befriends Mowgli. Our protagonist still needs to be wary of the fact that the serpent quite fancies eating him. This version of Kaa is also notable for the fact that it will be cast as female for the first time.
Finally, Breaking Bad‘s Giancarlo Esposito plays Akela. Along with Raksha, Akela raises baby Mowgli from infancy – a fierce patriarch, Akela is described by Esposito as “a great leader and a wise teacher.”