Disney Finds Its ‘Jungle Book’ Star

Neel Sethi Joins The Jungle Book

Neel Sethi stars in ‘The Jungle Book’ (Photo ©2014 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Director Jon Favreau has found his ‘Mowgli’. Walt Disney Studios announced newcomer Neel Sethi, a 10-year-old with no acting experience, has landed the lead role in The Jungle Book. The cast also includes Sir Ben Kingsley as the voice of Bagheera the black panther, Idris Elba as Shere Khan the tiger, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa the python, and Lupita Nyong’o as Rakcha (Mowgli’s wolf mother).

New Yorker Neel was selected from a worldwide talent search and will be making his acting debut in the big-budget studio production. According to Disney’s official announcement, Neel will actually be the only actor seen onscreen in the live-action/animation hybrid.

“Casting is the most important element of any film and finding the right kid to play Mowgli was imperative,” stated 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,” added 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.”

Disney’s releasing The Jungle Book in 3D on October 9, 2015.

-By Rebecca Murray

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