Bill Murray breathes life to Baloo in Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’

Academy Award-nominee Bill Murray (“Lost in Translation”) breathes life to Baloo, a free-spirited bear who meets Mowgli (Neel Sethi) after the man-cub has been banished from the jungle, in Disney’s new family adventure “The Jungle Book,” based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and inspired by Disney’s classic animated film.

“Baloo is a huge bear, bigger than life,” says director Jon Favreau. “He’s that teacher that youvp have in high school that encourages you to read the books that maybe you weren’t allowed to read, and opens your eyes to what the world is really all about. He’s a subversive thinker. He is not a guy who exactly fits into jungle society. He plays by his own rules and he encourages Mowgli to do the same.”

According to the director, Baloo is more complex than meets the eye. “The trick with Baloo is to capture that avuncular nature that he had in the 1967 film. He was lazy, he liked to eat. But he wasn’t a big, cuddly bear. He growled and roared. He knew how to fight and he knew how to protect himself. And still he bonds with this kid—he grows to care about him. Bill Murray was able to preserve those qualities while still bringing his iconic voice to the role.”

Favreau wanted the Oscar®-nominated actor to voice Baloo from the project’s inception. “He’s perfect,” says the director. “Bill just exudes all the charm and humor that you need and expect from Baloo. He has a certain dryness and a rebellious quality.

“I have always wanted to work with Bill Murray,” continues Favreau. “I’m a huge fan. But he’s not the easiest guy to get ahold of. Getting Bill Murray to agree to do your movie is like catching a unicorn. You have to stalk him.”

Fortunately for Favreau, the director caught his unicorn. “It turns out, Bill loves the character,” he says. “Once he came aboard, he was incredibly passionate. He has a very high standard.”

“I just couldn’t say no to playing Baloo,” says Murray. “Jon [Favreau] is a terrific storyteller and I’m such a huge fan of the original stories. Kipling wrote a lot of amazing stuff. I read that book when I was about 22 and I’ve always thought that it was just extraordinary writing.”

“The Jungle Book” is an all-new, live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a man-cub raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo (Bill Murray). Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire.

The wild adventure swings into Philippine theaters in 3D on Thursday, April 7, 2016. “The Jungle Book” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Follow the official social media accounts of Disney in the Philippines, namely, (FB) WaltDisneyStudiosPH, (Twitter) @disneystudiosph and (Instagram) @waltdisneystudiosph and use the hashtag #JungleBookPH.

Paul Bettany’s ‘Shelter’ exposes homelessness in America

Real life couple Paul Bettany and Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly collaborate in the actor’s directorial debut in “Shelter.” Bettany, best known for his role in the global blockbuster “Avengers” movies, “Iron Man,” “Legion” and “The Da Vinci Code” takes the back seat and helms a movie with a very powerful message on homelessness set in New York. Bettany’s wife Jennifer Connelly who starred with the late David Bowie in the classic and unforgettable “Labyrinth” and whose hit and acclaimed film credits include “A Beautiful Mind,” “Hulk,” “Blood Diamond,” “Noah” and “Little Children” gives a riveting performance in the movie as a homeless woman named Hannah, heroin addict who abandoned her son after she lost her husband during 9/11 mission.

Co-starring with Connelly is Anthony Mackie as Tahir as Nigerian immigrant whose recent release in jail led him to an encounter with Hannah. Coming from two different worlds, and as they learn about each other’s past, they begin to realize that they need each other to survive.

“Shelter” is inspired by a man who lived on the sidewalk to the left of Bettany’s apartment building in TriBeCa where he lives with wife and children. “He had three shopping trolleys (“carts” if you’re an American) stacked full of books—heady books: Ulysses; Remembrance of Things Past, and so on. Over the years, I tried to talk to him, but he was taciturn in the extreme, and after many attempts, I decided to respect his silence and privacy. I returned to watching him from my window and he to reading and protecting his books from the elements. When hurricane Sandy hit New York City in 2012, it saw a mandatory evacuation of our neighborhood on the Hudson River, and in the mayhem of trying to fit three unruly kids and a dog in the car and head to higher ground, I never once stopped to think about where my silent, well-read friend would go to weather the storm. I’ve never seen him again,” shares Bettany.

Long before he started shooting, he showed the script to Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy group in New York, who vetted it. Bettany wanted to highlight the bureaucracy that prevents the homeless from getting help and finding shelter. “But I didn’t want to make a film about homelessness,” he insists. “I wanted it to be about judgment.”

Bettany further reveals that he decided to take the director’s chair because for him, the script seems to be an interim document, “I’ve been wondering whether in our attempt to control the outcome of our efforts and to protect our investment, we sometimes develop scripts to death. Over develop them to the point where there is no real imaginative job left for the actor, no room for surprises, just enough space for him or her to paint by numbers and fill in the blanks. I’ve finally become bored of hearing myself moan on about how it isn’t the 70’s anymore, and have decided to try and do something about it—I love actors, they are magical and anarchic and trustworthy storytellers, and I want to give them their jobs back. To that end, I will be shooting Shelter fast and loose. Handheld, 1.85:1, which feels intimate to me and to my mind is a very actor friendly format—actors being, with very few exceptions, more vertical than they are horizontal,” reveals the actor-director on helming “Shelter.”

“Shelter” as Paul Bettany puts it is a love story is for him and for all people who for whatever reason slip by the wayside.

“Shelter” opens March 26, 2016 in cinemas from CrystalSky Multimedia.