Hail to the new king of the jungle: Christopher Walken has joined the cast of Disney's upcoming "Jungle Book" movie and will lend his voice to King Louie, the ruler of a troop of monkeys and apes, the studio has announced.
The Oscar-winning actor follows in the footsteps of jazz singer Louis Prima, who played the raucous primate in Disney's 1967 animated version of "The Jungle Book." With any luck, Walken's take on the character will have the same gonzo agility he displayed in the music video for Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice."
Also boarding "The Jungle Book," the studio said Monday, is Giancarlo Esposito ("Breaking Bad"), who will play Akela, the leader of the wolf pack.
Walken and Esposito join a star-studded cast that includes Ben Kingsley as the cunning panther Bagheera, Lupita Nyong'o as the mother wolf Raksha, Scarlett Johansson as the hypnotic serpent Kaa and Idris Elba as the fearsome tiger Shere Khan.
Ten-year-old newcomer Neel Sethi will portray Mowgli in the film, which is based on Rudyard Kipling's 1894 story collection about a boy raised in the jungle by wild animals. Sethi will be the only actor seen in the film; the menagerie of talking beasts will be rendered via digital animation.
Jon Favreau is directing the movie, which is scheduled for release on Oct. 9, 2015. Warner Bros. is also working on an adaptation of Kipling's book, which is in the public domain, with Andy Serkis at the helm.
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