While Disney has brought us both animated and live action versions of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, actor/director Andy Serkis is offering up a whole new live-action take on the material that is promising to bring things in a different, darker direction (in other words, don’t expect anybody to break into a rendition of “The Bare Necessities”). You can see for yourself in the new trailer that has just been released — check it out below! 

In Mowgli (which casts Rohan Chand as the title character), a boy is torn between two worlds, but ultimately accepts his destiny and becomes a legend. Mowgli has never truly belonged in either the wilds of the jungle or the civilized world of man. Now he must navigate the inherent dangers of each on a journey to discover where he truly belongs. Added to that, check out this cast providing their voices to the CG (but life-like) characters: Christian Bale is Mowgli’s mentor, the black panther Bagheera; Benedict Cumberbatch (voicing The Grinch this year as well) is the tiger — and sworn enemy to man — Shere Khan; Cate Blanchett is the seductive, but deadly, snake, Kaa; Peter Mullan and Naomie Harris are Akela and Nisha, the wolves who help raise Mowgli; and Andy Serkis is Mowgli’s closest friend, the bear Baloo.

In an exclusive interview, Andy comments that Mowgli is “a whole different ballgame to The Jungle Book. It’s much darker, closer to Rudyard Kipling’s book. It’s a Mowgli-centric story, but with some wonderful character performances — animal performances.” And as to his portrayal of Baloo, “He’s much darker than previous versions. Someone said he’s more Revenant than Disney.”

andy-serkis
(Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

Andy is best known for his motion capture performances, such as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films, King Kong in the 2005 remake, and the talking ape Caesar in the Planet of the Apes trilogy that began in 2011 with Rise of the Planet of the Apes and continued with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War For the Planet of the Apes. But directing is something that has always been a part of him.

“When I went to college,” he says, “I studied visual arts, so I was a painter and graphic designer and sculptor. Then I fell into theater, because there’s a very strong theater studies department in the university I was at. By the end of my first year, I thought, ‘Hey, I want to be an actor.’ I’d always wanted to be a visual storyteller as well, which was accelerated by working with Peter Jackson on Lord of the Rings and entering into the whole motion capture world. That started all of this.”

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle will have a limited theatrical release on Nov. 29 in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and London, and then will have a global launch on Netflix Dec. 7.