Idris Elba to voice deadly tiger in Disney’s ‘Jungle Book’

Idris Elba at the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

In “Pacific Rim,” a score-settling Idris Elba demonstrated he has the eye of the tiger. Now he’ll show that he has the voice of one as well.

The 41-year-old London-born actor is in final negotiations to provide the voice of the fearsome feline Shere Khan in Disney’s live-action adaptation of the classic Rudyard Kipling tale “The Jungle Book,” according to Deadline Hollywood.

Elba, who has earned strong reviews as the leading man in the biopic “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” and the BBC crime series “Luther,” has a sonorous voice and sly sensibility that would seem well suited to Shere Khan, the man-eating tiger memorably voiced by George Sanders in Disney’s 1967 animated version.

The book tells the story of an orphan boy raised in the jungle by wild animals who also faces off with the dangerous beast.


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The new film will be directed by Jon Favreau and combine live-action footage and computer-generated imagery, the latter of which will be overseen by Oscar-winning visual effects artist Rob Legato, who worked on “Avatar,” “Hugo” and “Titanic.”

Disney isn’t the only studio working on an adaptation of Kipling’s story, which was published in 1894 and is now in the public domain. Warner Bros. is developing its own take but has yet to settle on a director, though with this one moving ahead that project’s fate is uncertain.

Elba will show different stripes in his next film, “Beasts of No Nation,” a story of an African child soldier directed by “True Detective” helmer Cary Fukunaga. Favreau’s next movie, the culinary comedy “Chef,” opens the SXSW Film Conference & Festival tonight.


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