How Private Jets, Bill Murray And Smoked Brisket Helped Neel Sethi Prepare For The Jungle Book

It’s not exactly hard to see why most children will put "movie star" on their list of dream jobs. It’s a pretty glamorous gig that opens doors to all kinds of wild adventures and opportunities, not to mention gives you time with incredibly talented and famous individuals. Actor Neel Sethi got to live this particular dream after he landed the lead role in director Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book - and he most definitely had the chance to take full advantage of it, specifically walking away with a brilliant story to tell about the time spent he spent recording the song "The Bare Necessities" with Bill Murray.

Prior to The Jungle Book’s release, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Neel Sethi for a quick interview at a press event for the film in Los Angeles, and it was during our chat that he told me about the downright magical time he had recording the movie’s best known song – involving a trip across the country and fun with some really awesome people. I asked the young actor if his singing was done on-set or in a recording studio, and he explained,

A little bit of both. I recorded with Bill Murray and sang with him. Me and Jon Favreau flew on a plane to Martha’s Vineyard, on a private jet, and he smoked a brisket while me and Bill Murray played football.

For most people, that’s a story that’s preceded by, "I had the strangest dream the other night…" but for Neel Sethi it was 100 percent reality. That feeling in your gut right now? That’s jealousy of a 12-year-old kid.

Funny enough, "The Bare Necessities" wasn’t a song the young Jungle Book star was even familiar with before signing on to Jon Favreau’s live-action adaptation. A part of his process going into his audition for the movie was getting to know the famous Disney track, and – like the rest of us – once he got it in his head, he couldn’t let it go. Said Sethi,

I did not, but I watched the older movie when I heard about the audition – so I kinda knew the song. And so I looked over the script a little bit, of the song, and I got used to it. And then I always sang it!

You can watch Neel Sethi talk about recording "The Bare Necessities" in the video below:

The Jungle Book is now in theaters nationwide.a

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.