Belfast Telegraph

Andy Serkis: My Jungle Book will be dark and psychologically in-depth

Serkis, Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings and Caesar in the Planet Of The Apes films, will take on the role of Baloo, the beloved bear.

The new big screen version of The Jungle Book will feature a Baloo more similar to JK Simmons’ volatile drum teacher in Whiplash than the singing bear of the animated incarnation, director Andy Serkis has said.

The motion capture pioneer, best known for his roles as Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings and Caesar in the Planet Of The Apes films, will take on the role of the beloved bear, as well as helm the project.

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Serkis said juggling both tasks was a huge challenge, telling the Press Association: “I think I’ve discovered through The Jungle Book actually that I either like burying myself completely in a character and just living the world of the character or directing, I find it hard to do both.

“Jungle Book was a test of that.”

He adds: “Also it’s a very different version of Baloo that people perhaps won’t have seen before because in our version, taking the book as a lead, the tone of our film is much darker.

“We’ve got this incredible cast, it’s a Mowgli-centric story and a very psychologically in-depth story about identity and my Baloo is a bit more of a tough, gnarly old sergeant-major who is helping Mowgli to survive through tough love, basically.

“He’s more like the JK Simmons part in Whiplash than a happy-clappy singing bear. There is no singing in ours.”

The actor is making his directorial debut in Breathe, the true story of Robin and Diana Cavendish, played by Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy, a couple determined to live as normal a life as possible after Robin is paralysed by polio and said he was happy his first feature as a filmmaker is not one audiences might expect.

He said: “I’m really pleased about it. I am delighted. It would have fairly safe really to start off with a big visual effects movie and something that had performance capture in.

“I think that is what people expected and some people might be disappointed about that but I’m really pleased because it’s all about storytelling at the end of the day and this happens to be a magnificent story, a beautiful story and obviously very personal and I just think the performances in it are extraordinary so I’m pleased this is the first one to come out.”

Robin and Diana are the parents of Jonathan Cavendish, Serkis’s producing partner and co-founder of their production company, The Imaginarium, so Serkis admitted the project came with some nerves.

He said: “If I really muck this up it could be a bit squeaky but we made it together. We made the film so all the way along the line we were in concert with each other and it was a really happy experience, the whole thing.

Breathe is released in UK cinemas on October 27.

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