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Mowgli: Leg­end of the Jun­gle

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FROM GOLLUM IN The Lord of the Rings to Cae­sar in the Planet of the Apes films, Bri­tish ac­tor Andy Serkis has brought some amaz­ing crea­tures and an­i­mals to life on screen.

Now, Serkis, 54, adds an­other to the list as Baloo the bear in Net­flix film Mowgli: Leg­end of the­jun­gle, a new ver­sion of The­jun­gle Book by Rud­yard Ki­pling, pre­vi­ously brought to our screens in two Dis­ney movies.

The film was made us­ing the lat­est mo­tion-cap­ture tech­nol­ogy – where an ac­tor wears sen­sors on their body to cre­ate a dig­i­tal char­ac­ter – and has an all-star cast that in­clud­ing Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch, Cate Blanchett and Chris­tian Bale.

Here, Serkis, who also di­rected the movie, re­veals more…

WHAT CAN YOU TELL US

ABOUT THE FILM? Mowgli, played by teenager Ro­han Chand, is an or­phaned boy grow­ing up with wolves. He be­lieves he’s one of the pack until he reaches a mo­ment in his ado­les­cence when he be­comes aware that he’s not a wolf. The film is a jour­ney of him as­sim­i­lat­ing into the world of man where he finds both good and bad.

WHY HAVE YOU RE­MADE WHAT IS

SUCH A CLAS­SIC MOVIE? It is such a won­der­ful story, and this is a ver­sion much closer to the tone of Rud­yard Ki­pling’s book. We have all been very much con­di­tioned by the1967 an­i­ma­tion and other ver­sions which have treated the sub­ject mat­ter in quite a light way, which is great. But if you go to the book, it is a lot darker. IN WHAT WAY IS Mowgli DARKER? There is no singing or danc­ing from the an­i­mals, that’s for sure. The book isn’t a child’s fairy tale, so we’ve taken a darker ap­proach. In this ver­sion, there is sav­agery as well as emo­tion. DO YOU THINK VIEW­ERS WILL ENJOY THIS MORE SE­RI­OUS AP­PROACH? I think there is an ap­petite for more emo­tion­ally pow­er­ful sto­ry­telling. Look at Planet of the Apes, for ex­am­ple. We live in a world that is fraught with dan­ger and there is def­i­nitely room for look­ing at the hu­man con­di­tion through a prism which is slightly more se­ri­ous.

YOU ALSO PLAY BALOO THE BEAR.

HOW WAS THAT? I was re­ally in­ter­ested in tak­ing on Baloo. In the book he’s com­pletely dif­fer­ent from how you’d ex­pect. He’s like a drill sergeant who re­ally pushes Mowgli.

WHAT WAS YOUR BIG­GEST CHAL­LENGE

MAK­ING THE MOVIE? How to make talk­ing an­i­mals be­liev­able. We’ve seen lots of talk­ing an­i­mals in movies and you can make them look great, but we spent a lot of time en­sur­ing DO YOU THINK MO­TION-CAP­TURE PER­FOR­MANCES WILL EVER BE RECOG­NISED BY THE OS­CARS? The Academy spoke to me about it. They’re look­ing at the na­ture of what a per­for­mance is. Per­for­mance cap­ture, voice act­ing, suit work – like Doug Jones in The Shape of Wa­ter.

What is the dif­fer­ence be­tween that and John Hurt in The Ele­phant Man?

That’s a bril­liant per­for­mance by a bril­liant man caked in make-up.

ANDY SERKIS voices baloo the bear in his dark new ver­sion of The­jun­gle Book

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