Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book Finds Its Mowgli in Neel Sethi

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Walt Disney Studios has been steadily bringing its back catalog of popular animated films to life in live action for sometime now, and the next one up is a new take on the classic tale, The Jungle Book, directed by Jon Favreau, who is best known for his work on films such as Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Elf, and this year’s Chef. As the film’s development continued on, we had heard many names attached to the project, with Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley, and Idris Elba all joining the cast to voice some of the characters in the film, but the search for Baloo and Mowgli seemed to be a mystery.

But one of those mysteries has finally been uncovered, as unknown actor Neel Sethi, has landed the coveted role after a worldwide search was conducted. Sethi will be the only live action actor in the whole film, which will be populated by CGI characters to create the animal characters we’ve grown to love over the years. We’re still waiting to find out who will be playing Baloo in the new film, but it’s great to at least have a Mowgli in place.

Here’s the full press release:

After an extensive worldwide search ranging from New York to New Zealand, London to Canada, and all throughout the United States and India, The Walt Disney Studios is pleased to announce that 10-year-old Neel Sethi will play the part of Mowgli in Disney’s The Jungle Book. Neel is a newcomer from New York picked from among 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,” 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. The Jungle Book is a combination of live-action and animation and will be released in 3D on October 9, 2015.

The Jungle Book, which also stars Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong’o and Scarlet Johansson, and is directed by Jon Favreau, will be released on October 6, 2015.