The Fun Way 'The Jungle Book' Crew Kept the Energy Up During Shooting

by Raphael Chestang 3:46 PM PDT, April 15, 2016
Playing The Fun Way 'The Jungle Book' Crew Kept the Energy Up During Shooting

Disney's live-action reboot of The Jungle Book is finally here and ET is breaking down how the stunning film was made.

The reimagining of the animated classic based on Rudyard Kipling's collection of stories follows Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a man-cub who's been raised by a family of wolves. Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle, however, when the fearsome tiger, Shere Khan (voiced by Idris Elba), sees him as a threat.

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While everything on-screen looks real, Mowgli is actually the only live-action character in the film, which presented a challenge for 10-year-old newcomer Sethi in coming up with genuine reactions without real actors to bounce off of. Yet, Sethi tackled the task without complaint.

"I wasn't acting by myself," Sethi insisted to ET. "All the crew was there, everybody was supporting me and there were puppets there that helped."

Director Jon Favreau even stepped in as a scene partner from time to time. He helped put a scare into Sethi for the frightening tiger attack scene, which was based on a moment from Disney's original 1967 feature.

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As the primary actor on set, the weight of the movie was on Sethi's shoulders. When his energy waned during the long shoot days, the crew discovered a quick pick-me-up to give him a boost.

"His favorite song is 'Uptown Funk,' and we always had it ready, so if he ever was running out of energy, we would blast 'Uptown Funk,' and he would dance, and he would get back into the scene," Favreau told ET.

Sethi was cast in the film only after about 2,000 children auditioned. The search for the new Mowgli went far and wide, but Favreau said the final decision was a no-brainer.

"You need somebody who has a certain spark," Favreau said. "When you see someone on camera and you're drawn to them and you want to watch them, that's not something you can really teach."

While Sethi is the only one who actually appears in the flesh, there were many stars who lent their voices to the project.

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Along with Elba and Sethi, the cast includes Sir Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), Scarlett Johansson (Kaa), Christopher Walken (King Louie), Bill Murray (Baloo), Lupita Nyong'o (Raksha) and Giancarlo Esposito (Akela)

The Jungle Book is out now.