Lupita Nyong’o is an Oscar winner, a member of the Star Wars universe, and now, the voice of a beloved Disney character in The Jungle Book.
The 33-year-old actress voices mother wolf Raksha in the live-action/CGI reimagining of the 1967 animated Disney classic, and told ET that, even though she doesn’t have children of her own, it was easy to draw upon her maternal nature to channel the character.
“I've always loved children and I've been fantasizing about motherhood since I was like about three,” Nyong’o said at the film’s press junket on Tuesday. “For me this was an opportunity for me to tap into that natural instinct that I think we all have within us to bring forth life and to protect it.”
The actress revealed that she channeled her own “fierce” mother, Dorothy, to play Raksha, who adopts a human child, Mowgli, as her cub and protects him from predatory tiger Shere Khan. In real life, however, Nyong’o thinks she’ll be a much more fretful parent.
“I'm the kind of person, if I'm walking with a parent and their child, I'm the one who's worried about the child getting out of line,” she admitted. “I think I'm going to be one of those very scary mothers who doesn't let anyone touch their child.”
The Jungle Book role was a dream come true for Nyong’o and a welcomed change of pace after the whirlwind 2014 awards season for her Oscar-winning turn in 12 Years a Slave.
“This for me was the very first thing I did after I came off the 12 Years press tour,” she explained. “The appeal is the difference, the fact that I got to just totally separate from what I look like and get back to performance and to communicating something emotionally and intentionally through my voice. That was a challenge that I definitely wanted to have, and it was on my bucket list, so now I can tick that off.”