Walt Disney Pictures today announced that 10-year-old Neel Sethi will make his acting debut as Mowgli, the star of Jon Favreau’s upcoming The Jungle Book. Neel is a newcomer from New York picked from among thousands of auditions that occurred during an extensive worldwide search ranging from New York to New Zealand, London to Canada, and all throughout the United States and India.
“Casting is the most important element of any film and finding the right kid to play Mowgli was imperative,” said director Jon Favreau. “Neel has tremendous talent and charisma. There is a lot riding on his little shoulders and I’m confident he can handle it.”
“Neel embodies the heart, humor, and daring of the character,” adds 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.”
As Mowgli, Neel will be the only actor onscreen in the film, but it will also feature the voice talents of Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o and Ben Kingsley. Based on the book by Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book is a combination of live-action and animation and will be released in 3D on October 9, 2015.