I received an all expense paid trip from Disney to attend the #JungleBookEvent. The opinions expressed here are my own. I received no monetary compensation.
When I was invited to the press junket for The Jungle Book and saw “An Interview with Sir Ben Kingsley” on the itinerary, I admit I got really excited. Ben Kingsley is one of those actors that always seems larger then life. I don’t know if it’s his accent or the roles he has played or a combination of the two but I have always enjoyed all of his work, found him fascinating and enjoyed listening to his perfect lilting accent.
He entered the room of 25 bloggers with an amazing smile. I waited for him to speak and when he started to talk, there it was, that larger then life, beautifully accented voice. I could have sat there listening to him speak for hours!
Ben Kingsley, the voice of Bagheera, has an enormous list of credits (he started his film career in the 70’s) so it was only natural for one of the group to ask: You’ve been a part of so many magnificent movies and you have portrayed so many amazing characters on stage and in the movies. How do you approach coming into a character? How do you get ready to become a specific character?
“I think it varies because either I’m propelled towards a character through recognition or through curiosity . . . and curiosity has to be there, because if I’m not curious about him . . . then of course that won’t be contagious and the audience won’t be curious.”
He is thinking about the audience before he even takes on the role. He also drew on his experiences as a parent for the role of a panther, guiding a young boy and preparing him for life. He believes that both Kipling and Favreau prepared a book and a story about preparing a young person for life.
“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 will keep a child’s attention -you won’t . . . Whenever I read stories to my children, they would always ask me to read the scary bits over and over again, even if I did, the cover would come up but they would love it because they were hearing it in a safe place. That’s the ingredient. If they are introduced to the dark side of life in a really safe environment by their parents, then it’s fun.”
The thought of that fabulous voice reading a story – what lucky children he has!
He said he would be seeing the film in it’s entirety for the first time that evening at the premiere but added about the parts he had seen:
“I think it’s very close to what Rudyard Kipling envisioned, which was an enormous leap in his imagination, a child literally living with and talking with animals. And I think from what I’ve seen that is what you experience on the screen here.”
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