Mowgli In 'The Jungle Book' Is A Young Actor Making His Film Debut In The Biggest Way
Disney has had a lot of success in recent years with turning their classic animated films into big budget, live action blockbusters. 2010's Alice in Wonderland, 2014's Maleficent, and last year's Cinderella were all massive hits for the studio, so it's no surprise that the Mouse House is going back to that well again twice this year. In May, there's the long-awaited sequel to Alice in Wonderland, but first up in April is a new live action rendering of the 1967 animated classic, The Jungle Book. The impressive cast of voice actors in the film has been much ballyhooed, but the actor who plays Mowgli in Jungle Book truly stands out.
The actor with the honor of playing what is virtually the only human in the film is Neel Sethi. If you haven't heard of him, you're not alone. According to IMDb, the film will be the feature debut for the actor. That's especially impressive for the 12-year-old New Yorker, considering the way the film was made. Almost nothing Sethi interacts with in the film was really there on set, as basically all of the other characters and much of the landscape were created with CGI. So in a way, it's up to Sethi to carry the film, and it took a long time for director Jon Favreau to find someone who was up to the task.
The Iron Man helmer auditioned over 2,000 kids from all over the world before he came across Sethi, whom the director immediately recognized as having a special quality to him. "When someone is on the screen that much of the movie, you don’t want someone you grow tired of,” Favreau said, according to Variety. “You’re going to need someone who holds the screen and is interesting to watch." Thankfully, it sounds like he found it with Sethi.
Not only does Sethi have to carry the film as the only live action piece in what is otherwise basically an animated film, but he also has to hold his own against the ridiculous voice cast in the film. Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, Ben Kingsley, Christopher Walken, and Bill Murray all voice characters in the film, so Sethi must have some pretty impressive screen presence to compete with that roster. But the young actor wasn't intimidated by the prospect, and told People that when he went out for the film it was his first ever audition, and all he did was be himself.
So get used to the name Neel Sethi, because you're probably going to be hearing a lot more of it in the years to come.
Images: Walt Disney Studios; giphy.com