Disney has announced that Bill Murray will be the voice of the beloved character, Baloo, in the upcoming reboot of this classic animated movie. The Oscar-nominated comedian and actor will be lending his unique vocal talents to an already star-studded cast. The Jungle Book remake is set to hit theaters October 9, 2015.
If anyone who has not seen the original Disney version of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book (1967), Baloo befriends the Indian boy, Mowgli (“Little Frog”) and tries to help him out, protect him from danger like the fierce tiger Shere Khan and the python, Kaa, as well as offer him fatherly advice. Generally, he is a lovable, ticklish bear, though he can get tough when it comes to defending Mowgli.
Baloo sings the memorable song The Bare Necessities as he teaches Mowgli about what is really essential in life. In the original version of Disney’s The Jungle Book, Baloo was played by veteran actor, Phil Harris.
The other stars who have signed on to do voices in The Jungle Book reboot are Ben Kingsley, who will be the voice of the black panther, Bagheera; Idris Elba (Luther), who will voice the tiger, Shere Khan’s, voice; Scarlet Johansson as Kaa; Giancarlo Esposito from Breaking Bad as the wolf leader, Akela; and Christopher Walken, as the voice of the orangutan, King Louie.
Actress Lupita Nyong’o will also lend her vocal talents to the flick as the character Raksha. Mowgli will be played by a newcomer, 10-year-old actor Neel Sethi. The movie will, unlike the fully-animated original, be a combination of animation and live-action footage. The only live-action footage will be of Neel Sethi, playing Mowgli.
The biggest coup of all for Disney might possibly be getting Bill Murray to be the voice of Baloo, as Baloo was one of the original film’s most well-known, lovable and memorable characters. Bill Murray has voiced animals in other movies, perhaps most notably, being the voice of the lasagna-loving cartoon cat, Garfield, in the Garfield movies.
Both Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and the Disney movie based on it relates the story of Mowgli, a human boy who was raised in the jungles of India by first a wolf pack and then by other animals, like the black panther, Bagheera and the friendly but gruff bear, Baloo. There will also reportedly be a 3-D version of The Jungle Book released.
The Warner Brothers Studio also has a version of The Jungle Book in the works, as the book is in the public domain. It will be directed by the actor, Andy Serkis, who has played Gollum in The Lord of the Rings movies and The Hobbit trilogy, as well as playing the ape, Caesar, in the reboots of The Planet of the Apes movies.
With comedian and actor Bill Murray joining the cast of Disney’s reboot of The Jungle Book and lending his vocal talents to it, the movie could very well turn into a major box office success for Disney. It might not earn as much money as some of the Disney/Marvel Comics collaborations, like The Avengers and Iron Man movies; but, it will likely be a feel-good flick that the entire family will want to see. The Jungle Book will be directed by Jon Favreau, who has also directed — surprise, surprise — Iron Man and Iron Man 2.
Written By Douglas Cobb