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Christopher Walken will be part of Disney’s Jungle Book remake

The veteran actor will provide the voice of the ape monarch King Louie, the character that famously sings I Wanna Be Like You.
The veteran American actor Christopher Walken. Jason Merritt / Getty Images / AFP
The veteran American actor Christopher Walken. Jason Merritt / Getty Images / AFP

Christopher Walken is king of the swingers in Jungle Book remake

The veteran actor Christopher Walken has joined the cast of Disney’s live action Jungle Book remake. Entertainment Weekly revealed that the Oscar-winning star of films such as The Deer Hunter and Pulp Fiction will provide the voice of the ape monarch King Louie, the character that famously sings the song I Wanna Be Like You in Disney’s 1967 animated classic. Also joining the cast is the Emmy-nominated television actor Giancarlo Esposito, best known for his role as the drug dealer Gus Fring in Breaking Bad, who will be the voice of Akela, the leader of the wolf pack that adopts the human child Mowgli, played by the 10-year-old Neel Sethi. The star-studded cast already included Ben Kingsley as the panther Bagheera, Lupita Nyong’o as the wolf mother Raksha, Idris Elba as evil tiger Shere Khan and Scarlett Johansson as the hypnotic snake Kaa. – The National staff

Sharknado sequel takes a bite out of the Big Apple

Sharknado 2: The Second One, the sequel to last summer’s campy TV movie that became an unlikely cult phenomenon, was due to premiere on the American television channel SyFy last night. The original depicted an unusual weather phenomenon that caused tornadoes full of bloodthirsty sharks to rain terror on the residents of Southern California. In the sequel, the hero of the first film – the beach-bar owner Fin Shepard, played by the former Beverly Hills, 90210 star Ian Ziering – is visiting New York with his beloved ex, April (Tara Reid) when, would you believe it, a bigger, badder sharknado storm is brewing. While it remains to be seen whether the sequel can generate the same social media-fuelled audience reaction as the original, the Associated Press reviewer Frazier Moore has given gave Sharknado 2 a big thumbs up, describing it as a “hilarious must-see treat”. He continues: “Against all odds, Sharknado 2 has wised up. Though it and its performers teem with conviction – no winking at the audience here – the film is unabashedly awash with fun. This Sharknado is the very definition of scared silly.” – AP

Shaun of the Dead director swaps Ant-Man for giant grasshoppers

The British film writer and director Edgar Wright has signed up to direct the sci-fi coming-of-age tale Grasshopper Jungle, Entertainment Weekly reports. It follows the Scott Pilgrim vs the World and Shaun of the Dead director’s recent unexpected – and highly publicised – departure from Marvel’s Ant-Man movie, a labour of love project he had been involved with for eight years. Grasshopper Jungle, which is based on a novel by Andrew Smith, tells the story of a group of young friends who take on a genetically engineered plague of human-sized praying mantises that they accidentally unleash. Wright is currently working on Baby Driver, another pet project that he has had in the pipeline for several years, but the plot of which is yet to be revealed. – The National staff

Kangana Ranaut is to star with Imran Khan in a new film

Nikhil Advani, who is co-producing the forthcoming romantic comedy Katti Batti (Friends/Enemies) with Sidharth Roy Kapoor, has signed Kangana Ranaut to star opposite the film’s lead actor, Imran Khan, according to The Times of India. “It’s a progressive look at modern relationships,” says Advani. “The title reflects the dramatic equation Kangana and Imran share.” Advani said Ranaut is “perfect to portray Payal, a fine-arts student who isn’t sure whether she wants to be a model, a teacher or an architect”. Production begins in September. The film will be shot on location in various Indian cities, including Mumbai, Ahmedabad and New Delhi. A release date has not been announced yet. – The National staff

Steven Seagal taken off the lineup of Estonian music festival

Movie tough guy-turned-singer Steven Seagal has had his blues gig cancelled at a festival in Estonia following an uproar in this formerly Soviet-ruled Baltic state over the star’s pro-Russia views. Seagal is reported to back the Russian president Vladimir Putin’s March annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and regards him as a personal friend. The blues-singing action-movie star had been booked to perform next month at Tallinn’s Augustibluus summer blues festival, but uproar among Estonians forced organisers to pull the plug, the authorities said. The Estonian rock star Tonis Magi, who headlines the festival, went so far as to call for a boycott of the Tallinn event if Seagal was allowed to perform. “This situation has been solved. The festival organisers have made changes in the programme,” said Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet, confirming Seagal’s blues gig was cancelled. “Steven Seagal has tried to actively participate in politics during the past few months and has done it in a way which is unacceptable to the majority of the world that respects democracy and the rule of law,” he added. – AP

Updated: July 30, 2014 04:00 AM