A girl-power makeover in remake of ‘Jungle Book’
LOS ANGELES - Agence France-PresseOne of the best-loved animated films of all-time, “The Jungle Book” boasted iconic songs and a cast that ensured it would be revered as a milestone in Hollywood history. But for all its virtues, Disney’s 1967 version of Rudyard Kipling’s tale of an orphan raised by wolves lacked the one thing you’d be sure to find in the jungle -- the female of the species.
“I thought it was a little gender biased. I have two daughters, and the world is different now,” says Jon Favreau, who directs the big budget live-action remake which hits U.S. theaters on April 15.
The veteran director set about putting things right by bringing on board Tinseltown A-lister and regular collaborator Scarlett Johansson to give villainous, and very male, snake Kaa the feminine touch.
“I liked the character of this mother figure who is welcoming and also menacing. I thought that there was something interesting psychologically about that,” Favreau said.
The 49-year-old, who directed the “Iron Man” and “Avengers” movies, also hired Oscar-winning Lupita Nyong’o to upgrade the role of she-wolf Raksha, who has a bit-part in the 1967 film.
The 3-D remake of the “The Jungle Book” stars American newcomer Neel Sethi, 12, as “Mowgli,” the man-cub forced to abandon his jungle home for a journey of self-discovery, guided by stern panther Bagheera and free-spirited bear Baloo.
Favreau plucked the youngster from around 2,000 children who auditioned to play Mowgli.