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The Key Way Cate Blanchett’s Kaa Changed In Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle

Kaa played by Cate Blanchett in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle

Andy Serkis spent a great deal of time developing his vision for Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle. He first became attached to the project in early 2014 with filming starting in early 2015, and, naturally, that period saw the movie grow and change. This was surely true in multiple areas of the story, but one that the director recently told me about was the evolution of the python Kaa, who is played by Cate Blanchett. Said Serkis,

We changed things like the notion of who Kaa is, the snake in the jungle - what her function is. We always knew that we wanted her to be some kind of seer, some kind of prophet. But actually that began to consolidate itself much more in the later versions of the scene that we worked on with, where she's really goading Mowgli to fulfill his destiny, but also to, as a sort of self-seeking... She's a loner and a self-survivor. She wants the jungle to be protected so she's not threatened.

While Kaa doesn't have the most screen time of the characters featured in Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle, she does have a significant role, and actually opens the film with narration telling the story of how the titular protagonist became an orphan and ultimately adopted into a wolf pack. She also has a later scene where she essentially puts Mowgli on the path that he needs to travel, having visions of what the future has for the Man Cub, and apparently that material came together later in development.

I asked Andy Serkis about the evolution of Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle when I sat down with him last week during the Los Angeles press day for the film. Serkis remarked that about 70 percent of what we see in the finished cut of the movie existed from the earliest drafts -- including the darker tone -- but added that the changes to Kaa and her role in the story was part of the 30 percent that was tinkered with along the way.

Scripted by Callie Kloves, Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle is a new adaptation of the classic Rudyard Kipling story that has been brought to life with the magic of performance capture. Rohan Chand stars as Mowgli, who must make some serious choices as he grows older, realizing that his existence as a human threatens all of the animals he is close to -- particularly because the dangerous tiger Shere Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) is intent on killing and eating him and will do anything to make it happen.

You can click play on the video below, and watch Andy Serkis discuss the evolution of the story and the Cate Blanchett role within it.

In addition to Cate Blanchett, Rohan Chand, and Benedict Cumberbatch, Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle (opens in new tab) also stars Andy Serkis as Baloo and Christian Bale as Bagheera. The film is now available to stream on Netflix for all subscribers.

Eric Eisenberg
Eric Eisenberg

NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.