“I love crazy ideas!” Bale tells Variety. “Who would have thought Adam McKay would call me up one day and say, ‘Hey, what do you think about playing Dick Cheney?’ That’s just as crazy as playing a panther.”
“Andy is the only person who could call me and ask me” to play a panther and “I go, ‘Yeah, that could make sense. Let me think about it,’” Bale said. “Any other person, it would be like, ‘What are you talking about?’”
There was none of Bale’s signature drastic physical transformations for “Mowgli.” It was performance-capture technology that turned Bale into Bagheera. “I just had to walk like a panther,” Bale said. “That’s all Andy said — ‘Please study panthers.’”
While there was a time when Serkis was in a race to finish “Mowgli” before Disney’s “The Jungle Book,” Bale insists there’s room for more than one telling of the tale. “It’s just a great classic story that I think lends itself to tons of interpretations,” Bale said. “And they’re all fantastic. I’m not that guy who says, ‘You can’t like that one and you have to like this one.’ You can like all of them. They’re all vastly different. This is very, very different from Disney’s ‘Bare Necessities.’”
Serkis believes “Mowgli” focuses more on the title character (played by Rohan Chand) than other adaptations of Rudyard Kipling’s classic 19th century tale of a boy who grew up in the jungles of India.
“In most adaptations, Mowgli is almost left out of the story because everyone is so focused on the antics of the animals and the star turns of the people playing the animals and Mowgli almost fades into the background,” he said. “What was great about this script was it was this very extraordinary, deep, complex, emotional, and rich journey of this boy coming to his own and having to fight against the sense of being other and an outsider in both the worlds of animals and men.”
“Mowgli” begins a limited theatrical release Thursday in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and London. The film will be released globally on Netflix on Dec. 7.