When someone has the title of “Sir” before their name, there is an immediate interest in interviewing them, even more so when it is Sir Ben Kingsley. Needless to say, I was really excited about interviewing him, especially about his role as the voice of “Bagheera” in Disney’s The Jungle Book.
From the moment he walked into the room, our energy was high and you can tell he wasn’t expecting (and he was humbled by) cheering from us but how could we not? He is Sir Ben Kingsley, an amazing actor!
9 Interesting Things I learned from my The Jungle Book Interview with Sir Ben Kingsley
- He thinks it’s very close to what Rudyard Kipling envisioned, the audience experiencing a child literally living with and talking with animals.
- He is propelled towards a character through recognition or through curiosity. The role has to have that human ingredient to it that moves us forward even a tiny bit as a tribe or species.
- Whether he is playing a character in a live film or animation, Story telling is the essential thing for him.
- When asked if he related to his character or free spirited “Baloo” more, Ben said he was a little of both. He thinks we all are. He feels they’re all part of us rather than any one individual character and that we change according to the people in front of us.
- He initially offered an Indian accent as “Bagheera”, to play him as an Indian colonel but Jon Favereau felt that it didn’t fit the universality of the appeal of the story, that it might make it a province of one particular period of history, culture, hierarchy…Having said that, there’s still the ghost of the Indian colonel in his performance.
- For Ben, he didn’t see “Bagheera” as a father figure. He saw him in military terms as though he was training a young cadet into how to survive in particular circumstances.
- The recording process was spread out over at least a year and thought it was a really wonderful experience. . He did have two days with Neel, so they were able to establish that dynamic between them.
- He Feels you have to prepare young people for life by lovingly introducing them to the fact that there is light and shade, that both exist side-by-side in life, and that if you dilute, distort, sugar coat or sentimentalize everything in the hope that you’re gonna keep a child’s attention, you won’t.
- When he would read stories to his children, they would always ask him to read the scary bits over and over again. They’d love it, because they were hearing it in a safe place. That’s the ingredient. If they are introduced to that dark side of life in a really safe environment by their parents, then it’s fun.
So go and see The Jungle Book and take the family now that it is officially in theaters!
Want to know more about The Jungle Book? Check out these posts:
- The Jungle Book Interview with Lupita Nyong’o and Giancarlo Esposito
- 7 Things I Learned About The Jungle Book from my Interview with Jon Favreau and Neel Sethl
- The Jungle Book Movie Review
*I was invited by Disney to cover the press junket for The Jungle Book. All opinions are my own. Thank you for the photos Photo by Becky Fry/My Sparkling Life.