Why Garry Shandling Re-Recorded His Jungle Book Scenes

The death of comedian and actor Garry Shandling was a shock to both fans and friends last month. One person who was especially shocked was director of The Jungle Book Jon Favreau. Garry Shandling hadn’t acted in four years when Favreau cast him as Senator Stern in Iron Man 2. Now, Shandling’s final performance will be as the voice of a porcupine in Favreau’s The Jungle Book. It may be fitting that this will be the actor’s final role, as it was apparently so important to him that Shandling recorded his lines a second time, because he’d come up with better material.

The porcupine Ikki isn’t in the original Disney animated version of The Jungle Book, but he is in Rudyard Kipling’s original story and Jon Favreau asked Garry Shandling to take the part. The director tells Yahoo Movies that after recording the lines once, Shandling called him back and wanted to take another shot at it, something that was nearly impossible, because the first set of lines had already been animated.

He improvised everything. And then, he calls me back months later and says, ‘I’d really like another crack at it. I have some new ideas.’ Now it’s not a lot of screen time. I say, ‘It’s already animated. It’s done. We can’t really change anything at this point.’ In the beginning, I allow for improvisation, overlapping rewrites — and he wrote everything that he did. And I said, ‘OK, come on in,’ as a courtesy. He says, ‘I’ll fit in with the lip sync of what’s there. You won’t have to change anything.’

Recording dialogue for any sort of animated film is significantly more difficult than many might believe. One of the great things about is the freedom to improvise. However, once the animation is done, doing Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR) ,where your lines have to match the lip movements that are already present, is much more work. It’s normally done on live-action films when a line isn’t properly recorded the first time. Doing it here, when it wasn’t technically necessary, was a lot of extra work. However, Jon Favreau says it was worth it. Every joke was better and the part as a whole was greatly improved. Garry Shandling’s perfectionist nature is even more clear considering the part isn’t actually that large.

For what it’s worth, Garry Shandling returning to do more work was something of a happy accident, as he got to see some of the completed scenes from The Jungle Book. Since he would pass away prior to the film’s premiere, he would not have another opportunity to do so. The Jungle Book has been dedicated in his honor.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.