Although he's been kept busy appearing several blockbuster movies, Andy Serkis has been working on his movie Mowgli for the past five years. It is based on Rudyard Kipling's story of a feral child raised by wolves The Jungle Book, but is very different from either Disney version: it's closer to Kipling's original, there's no singing, and the story continues after Mowgli joins a community of people. Serkis also put his extensive motion-capture experience to work to film the animals in a new way.
We very carefully, in a long development period, designed the animals to fit the actor’s faces. So, the way we approached it was, if you take it on the left side, you’ve got an image of Christian Bale’s face, and then on the right hand side, you’ve got an image of a panther. We morphed Christian’s face over a series of images, backwards from the panther and towards Christian until we reached a sweet spot where somewhere along that spectrum you could actually see both. So, it was in the design of the animals. That was where the secret lies. And then, having the actors just play with Rohan Chand—this extraordinary young actor who plays Mowgli—to actually have them in the same space connecting with each other and emotionally finding the scenes together. So that really was something. that was the big difference. And I think when you see it, you won’t question whether these things feel alive.You can read the rest of the interview with Serkis at io9. Mowgli, starring Serkis, Christian Bale, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Cate Blanchett as various animals, opens October 19.