March 24, 2014

Gollum actor to direct a new Jungle Book movie


Andy Serkis

Andy Serkis

Actor Andy Serkis, best known for his performance as Gollum in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies has taken over as director for a new film based on The Jungle Book. He replaces Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (director of Babel and 21 Grams), who left the project because of a scheduling conflict.

Borys Kit writes in an exclusive for the Hollywood Reporter that the movie Serkis is on board to direct is being produced by Warner Brothers, and it’s one of two live-action Jungle Book movies in the works—the other one from Disney. The latter is being directed by Jon Favreau, with the man-eating tiger Shere Khan voiced by Idris Elba, who has the experience, from his days as Stringer Bell on The Wire, to be convincingly menacing and awesome.

Steve Kloves, who wrote the screenplays for the various Harry Potter movies, is producing the Warner Brothers film, and his daughter Callie Kloves have adapted Rudyard Kipling’s book for the screen. This will mark Serkis’s feature directorial debut, though he worked as a second unit director under Peter Jackson on the Hobbit movies, and he was responsible for what Kit describes as “the widely praised barrel-chase sequence in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”

That experience could be invaluable when working on a combined live action/CGI project like The Jungle Book, and Serkis has made a name for himself playing computer generated characters such as Gollum, as well as the leader of the chimpanzee rebellion in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Captain Haddock in The Adventures of Tintin.

The Warner Brothers production apparently plans to stay mostly faithful to Kipling’s source material, giving the story a darker pitch than that of the 1967 animated version from Disney. Per Kit, “the Warners movie hopes to explore life-and-death issues and be true-to-life in portraying animal behavior.” Which probably means a marked decrease in song-and-dance numbers from the denizens of the jungle, and almost certainly no Liverpudlian vultures.


Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.