Disney’s reimagining of The Jungle Book is coming along nicely. Jon Favreau is directing, Idris Elba is voicing Shere Khan, Scarlett Johansson is voicing Kaa, and 12 Years A Slave star Lupita Nyong’o is voicing Rakcha, the wolf mother who adopts Mowgli, and Ben Kingsley is providing the voice of Bagheera. But who will play the young human star of the movie in this live-action/animation hybrid? Now we know the answer.
In a press release, Disney has revealed that newcomer Neel Sethi (above) has won the coveted role of Mowgli in the new film. The 10-year-old New Yorker beat out thousands of other candidates who auditioned in a worldwide casting effort, and the press release confirms that “Neel will be the only actor onscreen in the film,” so all of the other characters will be computer generated. Favreau spoke highly of his new star:
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.
And casting director Sarah Finn heaped her own praise on their young Mowgli:
Neel embodies the heart, humor, and daring of the character. 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.
Favreau has worked well with kids before in Zathura, Elf, and Chef, and this is certainly a potential breakout opportunity for Sethi. With a great voice cast lined up and Favreau putting his own stamp on a beloved story, I’m interested to see how this plays out. How about you?
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