EXCLUSIVE: The Americans star Matthew Rhys is in talks to star in Andy Serkis’ Jungle Book: Origins for Warner Bros. We hear he is set to play the human character of John Lockwood as opposed to voicing an animal. In addition to directing, Serkis also will produce with Harry Potter writer Steve Kloves and Jonathan Cavendish, Serkis’ partner at his Imaginarium production company. Callie Kloves wrote the adaptation of the classic Rudyard Kipling novel about an orphaned boy raised by animals in the wild.
This is different from the Disney Jungle Book project that has Jon Favreau directing with the voices of Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray and Idris Elba. The Serkis project is believed to be grittier and boasts an equally impressive A-list voice cast with Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett. Serkis’ take — which blends live action with performance capture — marks his directorial debut, having performed second unit camera duties for Peter Jackson on two Hobbit films. He also will voice Baloo the bear in the film.
Rhys has earned critical kudos for his turn as KGB spy Philip Jennings on FX’s The Americans, which was picked for Season 4 this week. He has a number of films in the pipeline, including John Wells’ Adam Jones opposite Bradley Cooper, Alicia Vikander, Lily James and Jamie Dornan.
He is repped by WME, Management 360 and the UK’s United Agents.