Matthew Rhys In Talks To Join Andy Serkis’ Jungle Book: Origins

Credit: Dan Burn-Forti
Credit: Dan Burn-Forti

More news on one of the two Jungle Book productions being created, this time about Andy Serkis’ Jungle Book: Origins for Warner Bros.

Matthew Rhys, star of The Americans, is reportedly in talks to join the all star cast for Serkis’ directorial debut. Rhys will not be joining Cate Blanchett and Benedict Cumberbatch in the recording studio. He is being touted to play the human character of John Lockwood.

Along with being the director, Serkis is also the producer alongside Harry Potter writer Steve Kloves and Jonathan Cavendish.  Serkis and Cavendish are partners in The Imaginarium Studios production company. Originally written by English author Rudyard Kipling in 1893, the stories have been adapted for this version by Callie Kloves.

The first of the tales that make up the The Jungle Book tells the story of a young human, Mowgli, who is raised by wolves in the Indian Jungle with the help of Baloo, the bear, and Bagheera, the black panther, and then has to fight the tiger, Shere Khan.

There is a lot of confusion about the projects as Disney is also producing a version as well, directed by Jon Favreau and with the voice talents  of Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray and Idris Elba.

Serkis’ project is understood to be less, shall we say ‘Disney-fied’, and has an equally, if not slightly more impressive A-list cast. Alongside Cumberbatch as Khan (of course he’s the villain, he’s British!) and Blanchett as Kaa the python, Christian Bale will bring Bagheera to life and Serkis will take on the part of the loveable bear, Baloo. The role of Mowgli will be played in live action by Rohan Chand.

Jungle Book: Origins marks the directorial debut for Serkis. This is not Serkis’ first time taking on major production roles – he was in fact Second Unit Director for Peter Jackson on two of the Hobbit films; The Desolation of Smaug and Battle of The Five Armies.

Rhys can currently be seen to much acclaim as KGB spy Philip Jennings on FX’s The Americans, which was picked up for a fourth season this week. He has a number of films in the post-production pipeline, including John Wells’ Adam Jones opposite Bradley Cooper, Alicia Vikander, Lily James and Jamie Dornan.

Rhys will also be seen later in the year in a drama entitled En mai, fais ce qu’il te plaît  (which literally translates to “In May, do as you please”), which is the story of of the German invasion of France in May 1940. It has yet to be formally given it’s English title, but Darling Buds of May is it’s current working title. It is set for release in November this year.

Jacie Anderson
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