After a worldwide search, 10-year-old Neel Sethi has been cast as Mowgli in Disney’s live-action adaptation of “The Jungle Book,” the studio announced on Wednesday.
Jon Favreau is directing from a script by Justin Marks. The new film will follow the adventures of Mowgli, the little human boy who’s raised by wolves and who’s friends with all sorts of jungle creatures.
Neel, who will be the only actor onscreen in the film, is a newcomer from New York who was picked from thousands of auditions, and his role in “The Jungle Book” marks his first foray into acting.
“Casting is the most important element of any film and finding the right kid to play Mowgli was imperative. Neel has tremendous talent and charisma. There is a lot riding on his little shoulders and I’m confident he can handle it,” said Favreau.
“Neel embodies the heart, humor, and daring of the character,” added casting director Sarah Finn. “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 instincts jumped out at us.”
Kingsley will voice Bagheera, the black panther who helped raise Mowgli and is one of his best friends and protectors, alongside Baloo the bear. Nyong’o voices Rakcha, the wolf mother who adopts Mowgli; Johansson voices Kaa, the villainous python who hyptonizes her prey before eating them, while Elba voices Shere Khan, the fierce tiger who becomes Mowgli’s biggest foe.
“The Jungle Book” combines live action and animated filmmaking and will be released in theaters in 3D on October 9, 2015.