Multi-award winning actor Liam Neeson has signed on to play a malevolent leopard in South African animated film Khumba, the second feature from the Cape Town-based producers of Adventures in Zambezia.
The multi-award winning actor has played a number of key roles in box office franchise hits, including the latest Batman and Star Wars trilogies. He is also the voice of Narnia's Aslan and will be appearing in the upcoming animated film, Lego, from the directors of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
Khumba is the second animated feature to be produced by Cape Town-based Triggerfish Animation Studios, which has seen a successful global release of Adventures in Zambezia.
According to the film's pre-publicity, Khumba tells the story of a half-striped zebra who is blamed for the drought by his superstitious herd. He leaves his home in search of the magic waterhole where, legend has it, the first zebras got their stripes.
Teaming up with an overprotective, sassy wildebeest and a self-obsessed ostrich, the plucky young zebra meets an array of wacky characters in an unforgettable adventure through the Great Karoo desert to earn his stripes.
The original story was penned by Triggerfish writers Raffaella Delle Donne and Anthony Silverston in consultation with Jonathan Roberts, co-writer of The Lion King.
Silverston, who is also the director, is proud to have someone of Liam Neeson's calibre in the role of the villain.
"He brought a real menacing gravitas to this key character with his powerful, distinctive voice," Silverston said in a statement last week. "The fact that he took part in our movie is a testament to the quality of animation produced in South Africa, and I am immensely proud of what our team has achieved."
The film is represented by LA-based sales agent CMG and will be theatrically distributed by Millennium Entertainment in the US later this year.
The rest of the cast to date includes rising stars Jake T Austin (Rio, New Years Eve), AnnaSophia Robb (The Carrie Diaries, Soul Surfer) and Joey Richter (A Very Potter Musical), as well as Emmy-award winner Loretta Devine (Grey's Anatomy, Crash), Richard E Grant (The Iron Lady, Corpse Bride) and British comedy actress Catherine Tate (The Catherine Tate Show, Doctor Who).
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