Meet your new Mowgli.
10-year-old Neel Sethi has been cast as the "Jungle Book" hero in Disney's combination live-action/animated version of the classic story, the studio announced today. The New York actor was chosen from among thousands of hopefuls in a worldwide search.
“Casting is the most important element of any film and finding the right kid to play Mowgli was imperative,” said director Jon Favreau in a statement. “Neel has tremendous talent and charisma. There is a lot riding on his little shoulders and I’m confident he can handle it.”
Added casting director Sarah Finn: “Neel embodies the heart, humor, and daring of the character...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.”
Sethi will be the only actor onscreen in the new film, which will also feature the voice talents of Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, Idris Elba and Ben Kingsley. The project is not to be confused with Warner Bros.' own brewing adaptation of the tale, which is set to be directed by motion-capture star Andy Serkis.
"The Jungle Book" is slated for release on October 9, 2015.