Sir Ben Kingsley may be playing an animated cat in Disney’s The Jungle Book, but he’s not one to rest on his laurels. The Oscar winner put great thought into developing the voice of black panther Bagheera, who becomes a kind of father figure to the abandoned child Mowgli (played by Neel Sethi). Talking to Yahoo Movies at D23, the Oscar winner talked about the different accents he considered using for the feline character — and reveals what he ultimately chose. Watch the video, above.
Kingsley, a British actor of Indian descent, thought at first that the jungle cat should have an Indian accent. “I offered an Indian accent to [director Jon Favreau] for my Bagheera,” Kingsley tells Yahoo Movies. “And we debated it, and then we thought, no — actually, it’s more British,” Kingsley continues. “And then I leaned towards a military Brit, to have authority, discipline, command, and then underneath that of course, tremendous loyalty and affection.”
Bagheera having a British accent fits with the Disney tradition; in the 1967 animated film, the character was voiced by English actor Sebastian Cabot. Watch a clip of his performance below:
The Jungle Book opens in theaters on April 15, 2016.