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Warner Bros.' adaptation of The Jungle Book is starting to pick up steam and now has Andy Serkis ready to work some mo-cap magic, but Disney's competing project based on the same source material is already in its casting stage. Last month we learned that Idris Elba had entered negotiations to play the villainous tiger Shere Khan in the Jon Favreau-directed feature, and now new reports say that the project is close to adding two of the most popular actresses currently going in the film industry.
The Hollywood Reporter has learned that 12 Years A Slave star and Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong'o and Scarlett Johansson have both entered into negotiations for roles in the new re-imagining of Rudyard Kipling's most famous story. What's interesting about the potential roles for both actresses is that they are both voice-over parts. Nyong'o is reportedly up for playing Rakcha, the mother wolf who winds up adopting and raising Mowgli, story's protagonist, while Johansson will be playing for the villains and lending her voice to Kaa, the python with hypnotic eyes.
The Jungle Book would be the first voice-over role Nyong'o takes in her career (and possibly only her third feature), but Johansson is well versed in this area, most recently lending her voice to the winner of last year's Best Original Screenplay Oscar:
Of course, this isn't the only high profile project that Nyong'o has been rumored to join since her big Academy Award win. Last month we heard world that the actress was taking meetings with J.J. Abrams about the possibility of taking a role in Star Wars: Episode VII. Given that Jungle Book would only be a voice role, that probably means that she would be able to fit both movies into her schedule - plus doing the film probably gives her more bonus points with Disney, which is producing the project.
Johansson, meanwhile, is currently hard at work reprising her role as Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow in Joss Whedon's The Avengers: Age of Ultron (yet another big Disney connection and a role she played for Favreau in Iron Man 2). She also happens to be pregnant with her first child, which is another reason why her doing another voice-over part makes a good amount of sense.
Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book is being based on a script written by Justin Marks (Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li) and has been scheduled to hit theaters on October 9, 2015. Production on the movie will likely start up in the next couple of months - particularly because Disney is trying to beat Warner Bros. to the punch - so stay tuned for more casting announcements and news in the coming weeks.