Benedict Cumberbatch vs. Idris Elba: It's a 'Jungle Book' Faceoff!
By Alex Ungerman
Everyone drop everything!
We need two competing Jungle Book movies, apparently. So when Disney picked up Golden Globe-winning Luther star Idris Elba to voice Shere Khan in their adaption of Rudyard Kipling's classic tale, Warner Bros. needed to come out strong with a celebrated actor of their own to voice the man-eating tiger. Enter, Sherlock star and the Internet’s favorite actor, Benedict Cumberbatch!
How did this happen? Both of those casting choices are so perfect and that's the problem! You can't honestly go see BOTH of these movies, right? People will laugh at you. That's why we are breaking down what both of these powerhouses bring to the role, so that you can make an informed decision about which tiger you want to watch next year.
Now to the bare necessities!
Idris Elba is 41 years old, and hails from London. At 6'3, he wins the height matchup on Cumberbatch, which might be important because tigers are the largest jungle cats, but seeing as they cannot speak in real life, there might be larger suspension of belief issues at play.
Elba received rave reviews for his performance in Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom, and his run as a brilliant murder detective in Luther has netted him a Golden Globe. He plays conflicted characters to the top of their intelligence, so he brings a lot to the table as Mowgli's mortal enemy.
Elba is a father to two children, so he may not have the emotional edge needed to terrorize a child.
Benedict Cumberbatch is 38 years old, also from London and... come on. The guy PLAYS a VILLAIN named KHAN in Star Trek Into Darkness. And he's terrific in it. It is entirely possible that the Warner Bros. casting directors took one look at that fact, high-fived each other, and took lunch early.
But that's not all Cumberbatch brings to the role. The London Academy trained actor takes on the classic role of Sherlock Holmes and reinvigorates cunningly and with so much depth that feels highly transferable with the character Shere.
You can't get lost in his piercing gaze if he's just voicing Shere Khan. Or wait... can we give Shere Khan Benedict Cumberbatch eyes? How do we feel about sexy tigers? Is that weird...?
Deep down, Disney and Warner Bros. must know how silly it looks to rush two independent versions of The Jungle Book to market at the same time, they're just too focused on total box office domination to care. At the very least, we get two actors that the Internet loves to voice the biggest, baddest, jungle cat there is. And that's actually pretty cool.