Here’s who provides the voices (and mo-cap) for the animal character’s in Netflix’s Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. Andy Serkis’ film is a mix of live action and motion capture performance, telling Mowgli’s story in a darker, more adult-targeted way.
The film has had a long journey to the big screen. Put into development in the early 2010s, it was overtaken by Disney’s 2016 remake of their animated classic; that live-action/CGI version of The Jungle Book made almost $1 billion worldwide. Warner Bros. version was pushed back, and is only now finally releasing after being sold to Netflix.
Related: Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle Review
Mowgli focuses more on the man-cub move to the man village, and the struggle he has to find his place as a human or animal, but that doesn’t mean Serkis hasn’t assembled an all-star voice cast. Here’s a rundown of who’s playing who in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle.
Benedict Cumberbatch is Shere Khan: The menacing tiger with a fear of fire, Shere Khan stalks Mowgli and wants him dead. In both Kipling’s original story and Mowgli, Shere Khan is hampered by a lame leg. Cumberbatch is, of course, exceedingly well known, especially for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in the BBC drama, Sherlock, and for playing Doctor Strange in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He’s recently voiced the Grinch for Illumination’s The Grinch movie.
Christian Bale is Bagheera: Bagheera is the black panther who protects Mowgli in the jungle. He is stable, sensible, and wise, and serves as both friend and mentor to Mowgli. Though it pains him, he knows Mowgli belongs with man in the village. Bagheera is voiced by Christian Bale, another A-lister known for many high profile roles but especially Batman in The Dark Knight trilogy. In 2010, he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his turn in The Fighter.
Rohan Chand is Mowgli: The central role of the movie, Mowgli is a young boy who has been raised by wolves in the jungle. As a result, he thinks of himself as a wolf, and has never had any human interaction. Now he’s older, he’s intrigued by the man-village, and the jungle animals can sense that he needs to leave them behind to live in the village. While he may do so, his heart will always be with his animal family and friends. Chand has had roles in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Homeland, and the Adam Sandler movie, Jack and Jill.
Cate Blanchett is Kaa: Kaa plays nice to Mowgli’s face, with the sole intention of crushing him to death in her coils. She’s dangerous and predatory, using hypnotism to get to Mowgli wherever possible. Threats from creatures like her and Shere Khan are why Bagheera believes Mowgli will be better off in the man village. Blanchett is another A-lister for the cast list; her most recent roles have been in Thor: Ragnarok, Ocean’s Eight, and The House With a Clock in its Walls.
Andy Serkis is Baloo: Director Andy Serkis brings to life one of Kipling’s biggest characters, Baloo. The laid-back bear with a heart of gold strikes up a close friendship with Mowgli, but he’s arguably less responsible than Bagheera, and can’t see a reason why Mowgli can’t stay in the jungle. Serkis is the king of motion capture performance, and so his Baloo should be something to behold. His work in the genre is incredible, from Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, to Caesar in War for the Planet of the Apes, and many more.
Naomie Harris is Nisha: Nisha is the female wolf who adopts the baby Mowgli as one of her wolf cubs. This is a change from the original Jungle Book story from Kipling, where the mother wolf is named Raksha. Another British star, Harris has enjoyed a varied career, including playing Winnie Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. She also plays Eve Moneypenny in the James Bond franchise.
Peter Mullan is Akela: Head of the wolf pack, Akela is protector and father figure to Mowgli. He welcomes the baby Mowgli into his pack but as the child grows, he knows his family will be safer from the threat of Shere Khan if Mowgli moves to the man village. Mullan has had a variety of film and TV roles, including parts in Westworld and Ozark.
Tom Hollander is Tabaqui: Tabaqui never featured in the Disney adaptation of Jungle Book, so he’ll be a new character to many. A sly hyena, Tabaqui serves Shere Khan as a messenger and spy. Hollander is a well-known British actor with many credits to his name including voice work on American Dad and Family Guy. He’s also the star of the BBC comedy, Rev.
Freida Pinto is Messua: Messua lives in the man village, and decides to adopt the wild Mowgli when he arrives. In Kipling’s story, she believes him to be her long-lost son. Pinto is best known for playing the role of Latika in Slumdog Millionaire.
Eddie Marsan is Vihaan: Vihaan is the partner of Nisha, effectively filling the role of adoptive wolf father to Mowgli. Marsan is a British actor, known for many roles in UK films and for playing Terry Donovan in the long-running series, Ray Donovan.
Jack Reynor is Brother Wolf: As his character name would suggest, Reynor plays Mowgli’s wolf cub brother. Reynor has various credits to his name, including Sing Street, Transformers: Age of Extinction and 10 episodes of the TV series, Strange Angel.
Matthew Rhys is Lockwood: The human hunter who has a far darker past than Mowgli realises, Lockwood represents the ill of human actions. He’s played by Matthew Rhys, who is best known for The Americans.