Ben Kingsley has been cast to voice the black panther Bagheera in Disney’s live-action adaptation of “The Jungle Book,” the studio announced on Wednesday.
Directed by Jon Favreau from a script by Justin Marks, the new film will follow the adventures of Mowgli, the little human boy who’s raised by wolves and who’s friends with all sorts of jungle creatures. Kingsey’s Bagheera helped raise Mowgli and is one of his best friends and protectors, alongside the bear Baloo.
Kingsley is joining a voice cast that already includes Lupita Nyong'o as Rakcha, the wolf mother who adopts Mowgli, Scarlett Johansson as the villainous python Kaa who hyptonizes her prey before eating them, and Idris Elba as Shere Khan, the fierce tiger who becomes Mowgli’s biggest foe.
“The Jungle Book” combines live action and animated filmmaking and will be released in theaters in 3D on October 9, 2015.