Fairview Entertainment, Moving Picture Company and Walt Disney Pictures bring you The Jungle Book, to be released on April 15, 2016. It has a stellar cast of industry veterans and iconic actors and actresses including Bill Murray (Lost in Translation), Ben Kingsley (Gandhi), Scarlett Johansson (Her), Lupita Nyong’o (12 years a slave) and the late Garry Shandling (The Larry Sanders Show). Newcomer Neel Sethi is set to play Mowgli and will be the only actor to be seen on-screen with the others lending their voices. Based on the Rudyard Kipling novel, the script was penned by Justin Marks and directed by Jon Favreau.
Speaking to IGN, Sethi talked about acting with “eyelines and puppets and stuff that I looked at and I just imagined that there was a wolf or a panther”. He also talked about watching “the movie beforehand but that never stopped me from like changing it all”. Sethi compared himself to Mowgli, saying they were both “stubborn, energetic and are full of confidence”. He credited director Jon Favreau with teaching him how to “be dramatic without being overdramatic”.
Sethi auditioned and beat out “thousands of kids” for the coveted role. Talking about Neel, Favreau said, “Neel has tremendous talent and charisma. There is a lot riding on his little shoulders and I’m confident he can handle it”. Even casting director Sarah Finn couldn’t stop gushing about the leading man, “he’s warm and accessible, yet also has an intelligence well beyond his years and impressed us all with his ability to hold his own in any situation. Even though he has no professional acting experience, his natural charisma and instinct jumped out at us”.
Watch the IMAX Featurette on the film below. It contains an introduction by Lupita Nyong’o and a scene featuring Johansson and Sethi.