Neel Sethi on The Jungle Book Blu-ray
For a first-time actor, 13-year-old Neel Sethi could not have picked a more auspicious debut than as the lead in Jon Favreau‘s live-action remake of Walt Disney Pictures‘ The Jungle Book. The film has taken in more than $961 million dollars at the worldwide box office, and is coming out on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD combo pack tomorrow. We took the time to catch up with Sethi in a 1-on-1 where we talked about his life since the movie took off, working with Bill Murray and what he’d like to see Mowgli do in The Jungle Book 2!
ComingSoon.net: Obviously, this movie is huge. It was close to a billion dollar movie and now it’s coming out on Blu-ray, which means even more people are going to see it. How has it changed your life since it came out?
Neel Sethi: It has a lot. It’s very cool. It’s very fun because now I’m traveling all over the world and everything, so it’s cool. But it’s cool because I get to travel around the world and I finally got to go to Japan, which was really fun.
CS: Did you get to see anything cool while you were there?
Sethi: Yeah, we went to Tokyo. We were in Tokyo, we went to Kyoto, we went to Hiroshima, Osaka, and then we went to all these places and they were really cool.
CS: Awesome. So do you have trouble walking down the street now? Is it just a different frame of living for you?
Sethi: A little bit. Sometimes, people come up to me, but only if they like, watched the interviews, because I looked a lot different in the movie. And now, they can see it. If they look me up, they’ll be like, “Oh hey, that’s you.” If I tell them, they’ll believe me, but if I don’t tell them, they’ll be like, “Oh, he’s just a normal kid.”
CS: I remember when the movie came out, you and Bill Murray did this great song and dance on “Jimmy Kimmel”. Was that the first time you actually got to work with him, or did you get to work with him during the movie?
Sethi: I actually got to voice record with him in Martha’s Vineyard, where we took a private jet to go to a recording studio and we played a lot of football and ate a lot of food and it was just such an amazing day. It was fun.
CS: I know he’s kind of an interesting guy. He kinda likes to play around with people and do pranks and stuff. Did he do any of that stuff with you?
Sethi: Yeah, definitely. (Laughs) He did this thing where he was making a joke while we were all eating, and he made Jon Favreau choke, and it was really, really funny, because he was laughing.
CS: In the movie you have two father figures. You have Bagheera, who’s the more responsible one, and you have Baloo, the wild one. Which one would you gravitate towards in real life? Would you gravitate towards Baloo or Bagheera?
Sethi: I guess Baloo, because he’ll let me do what I want, I guess.
CS: Yeah, definitely. He might get you in trouble, though.
Sethi: Yeah, sometimes, maybe.
CS: In terms of where the inevitable sequel is going, I know at the end of the original animated movie, Mowgli found himself a girlfriend in the man village. Do you think that Mowgli is due for a girlfriend in the sequel?
Sethi: I don’t know. I hope they do a sequel. I think that’d be a lot of fun.
CS: I think Jon and the screenwriter are already signed up for one. Have you heard anything about that?
Sethi: Yeah, I think they’re writing one as we speak.
CS: If there was going to be a sequel and you were to be in it, what are some of the places you would like to see the character go, theoretically?
Sethi: He should probably go to the man village, and he’d have some more clothes.
CS: That would be good probably, yeah. And were you comfortable shooting the whole movie on a sound stage like that?
Sethi: Yeah, I was very comfortable because I don’t know how to do anything else. It was my first time trying it.
CS: So because you had not done a lot of acting prior, it was just easy to acclimate to the blue screen and acting against nothing and stuff like that?
Sethi: Yeah. It was different.
CS: What about Jon Favreau? What is he like to work with as a director?
Sethi: He’s a really fun guy. He’s really nice. He’s a really good actor.
CS: He probably has a lot of sensitivity to what an actor needs when he’s on set, because he’s done it himself, right?
Sethi: Yeah, because sometimes we’re doing scenes and he’ll actually do it with me and help me act a lot better.
CS: Did you reference a lot of the pre-vis, the pre-visualizations that they did?
CS: Was watching a 3-D rendering of the scene more helpful than having physical people to act against?
Sethi: Sometimes they showed me maybe a scratch version of what it would look like, and I would just picture that in my head.
CS: So that was easier than – I don’t know what they used, golf balls or guys in green suits or what it was.
Sethi: Yeah, it was blue suits, but yeah. And they used tennis balls and stuff.
CS: Which scene had the most physical set on the stage?
Sethi: When I’m in the mud, I think that’s it, because it was real mud and I’m just running around thinking that the mud is not the problem, but the mud was the problem.
CS: That’s good, to have that physical interaction on the set. It’d be weird to just pretend to be in mud.
Sethi: Yeah, I also did that for the river scenes, the water, that was real, too, and it wasn’t in a sound stage.
CS: Cool. And do you have any other projects coming up next?
Sethi: Well, I hope to do more. I have some stuff in the works.
CS: Anything you can mention or is it still in development?
Sethi: Yeah, I can’t talk about it. I wish I could, though.
CS: It’s okay. Are you doing anything else? I don’t know what you do in your spare time. Do you do sports or singing or school plays?
Sethi: I play a lot of sports. I love music. That’s like a normal day.
CS: With the Blu-ray coming out, what do you think is the best reason for people to get the Blu-ray, even if they’ve already seen the movie in theaters?
Sethi: Because there’s an audition tape at the end, my audition tape, where I auditioned for the movie, it’s really good footage.
Disney’s The Jungle Book comes out on Blu-ray/DVD tomorrow.