Director Jon Favreau Reveals the Secrets Behind the Making of 'The Jungle Book'

Favreau appears on "Popcorn with Peter Travers" and shares how he chose the lone actor in the film and the tricks he used to make the jungle and the animals seem so real.
18:52 | 04/15/16

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Transcript for Director Jon Favreau Reveals the Secrets Behind the Making of 'The Jungle Book'
Yeah. Have you lost your minds. Oh. Did you dozens and have been talking to talk to that's no place in a jungle but he. Collects you want to do that you do there's an amendment it. I don't think below get ready for high. Man I'd donate jungle. Teaching him. Not full hibernation but right now hold off. Hi everybody I'm Peter Travers and welcome to popcorn where we tell you what is happening at the movies and there's a movie now what you're gonna see it even if I don't tell you to. And it's called the jungle book it's directed by my friend here John that roe. It creates a world. Like I've never seen. You feel like you could reach out and touch this don't go even know John shot this movie in some down in Los Angeles. It looks like that Jung like India looks like everything. And you feel like it's a movie you can get lost so John thank you for me in that time thank you thank you I'm glad you liked it. I did I we haven't talked before had a lot off I couldn't come on this one it he's. You had been what did you do what thinking anthrax death. It where memories. Here's that there. You could have skewed media every possible yes you know you're doing something really unique you have like one human character. Then you're shooting this entire jungle where you think the technology. Is at its best thing to do it but you know you're on the Ottawa. Yeah it's tricky. Who are we -- juggling quite a few bowling balls on this one. One is you've got to Kipling stories from a hundred years ago that he got for fifty years ago the Disney animated version that was very different tone. And a lot of liberties were taken and it's telling that story but that's the when I grew up with most people familiar with the to Heidi had he had bring both of those sorts at the source material together and how do you make it. Accurate to the flora and fauna of India. As you said we we filmed it in the studio most of our sets were about the size of what we're sitting here now with one human characters. Who'd never acted before. So drink a lot of ways it could have gone you know that they tell you it's true it you don't really work with children and animal rights that you decide if I'm going to do well that's right. Now because they are really something created in the computer is that just because you're tired of active. Movie no well you would animals it's. There there are definitely advantages to computer generated animals its first of all it's a lot more humane and second of all. They can talk that the that the murder of all they take direction well think they do everything you got there they own EU if they get off the chain so it really was it was a no brainer. Well before. I think it'd always kind of missed especially with the animals the eyes via and this is remarkable via. You're sort of looking at those walls yeah you. This is I'm looking yes at some of that is the animators some of its the technology associated with. Ray tracing which is a new wave of rendering the weight light interacts with the subject some of that is the first hymns and things we developed for this. But honestly a lot of it is is comes from the director not asking these artists to make those animals do more than they should. They still holds up however many years later ten years later whatever it is fifteen years later. Because those were real animals and they just made the mouth moved with CGI but they still moved around like real animals cause they were real. In this case we. Tasked our artists with not allow any animals to do things that Clinton normally do. And the talking when they're talking what we're trying to make their mouths now moving away that that animal wouldn't. They're not being too expressive with their face and so by creating parameters and limitations and actually as the the beauty in the believability the film. Well let's let's start buying taking the boy. And where he found him in what he has to work as the only live actor. Talk about Neil just yet this year so we want we we want to define the right kid. And when you're dealing with a ten year old is now lot of kids with a lot of experience. So you're you're finding might secretly might not want to work with and sometimes they have the background from theater that might be different set of skills are from television. You don't know but from kid to kid it varies but the big thing if you wanna find somebody who's gone a charisma. A magnetic quality so somebody that you like to. To watch and they were 2000 submissions all around the world. United States in the Australia. United Kingdom. And we felt like it right here in Manhattan would never acted before. Who went on tape because his dance instructor gave him a flier. He had it was so full confidence and poise. I kept watching the tape and smiling wondering is this the guy he looked like the kid from the old cartoon from 67. And I had an affection for that Khartoum and that character grown up. And we brought him and useful conference there was no fear. There was no sense of pressure as he was an actor so this is a big game and he was an athlete he played. He played baseball and basketball and football senior athletic kid to believe that he's jumping from trees tree into being like we talk apart core. Acrobatics. And and he was just great and the what he was dealing with onset of course was not Bill Murray and Christopher Walken and all these actors. I brought him to record with them but we treated the beginning almost like an animated film mood get reference for the animation capture data. Whatever it took to drive the rate of the facial expression and the movement of the animal. And I got good back and forth and spontaneous performance on the audio track between the two of them. But then it was going to be the kid alone as we shot the plates in the real sent me and we didn't have the actor should and the idea that I had for this. Was to get the Jim Henson studios design up puppeteers. To come because they improvise it's spontaneous if you've ever seen it interacting with a puppet their eyes light up. And that's the type of energy at once on the set not somebody just looking at an island off camera reading description yeah. And so having the puppets around sometimes I would jump into certain scenes like witnessing and bare necessities in the water. I jumped in the water with and we were seen together so whatever so I like that idea here now to Everett team yet. The sparkle to get the twinkle in the eyes of the performer that comes from them. Being engaged and especially with a ten year old eleven Euro hit you want something. You need to need to hold their entrance interest of the what they get bored and and the other thing was we motion capture the whole film before we filmed anything. With Neil who's the actor plays Mobley and with all the character voices and simple animation and the sense. And so by motion capturing it wheeled to build an entire low risk of the entire films about time we start filming we have the hour and a half film. Available to us and editing bay behind the curtain on the set. So each shot we would do we would cut that take in and make short time that with the Hulk and by the end of the film of the Hulk assemble. What happened when you put him in the room though war with other actors who were doing voice work and they were great is he's a great Smart sweet kid. So you put him with Bill Murray they were playing football beforehand we went to monsters vineyard we we rented Carly Simon's. Her her recording bar and the studio where where she done a lot of the work with James Taylor it was very for me it was. There's quite a treat just to be there. And in this wonderful place I'd never spent time before. And there are that's where Bill Murray you know he he was part of the year they are out their plan football I was cook and I was cooking dinner. It was very the ship was cooking chef was could have with a sales help and then next scene over the next day they're in there improvising back and forth and what I hoped would happen would happen our member Bill Murray from meatballs aroused growing up and that was like that's your dream counselor that's your dream body that you want. The guy who you know cares about you but give me a hard time making bath teasing you. And they had that dynamic and it was wonderful I think a lot of it came across even through all the technology. And this entire three year process I think some of that spark of spontaneity in and you know and honesty came through the film. It's it's impossible to get Nomar if you you have to have a secret phone them if you had a coupon. Well I knew somebody who just worked with him director Ted Alfie consisted saint Vincent with them. I'm I was working with head on another project and I which is asking Ted. When they are working together just your stories you're sick curiosity long before ever knows jungle book. But I had heard what his experience had been. And it's very much like it it's very much like a Willy Wonka type thing where. You get the call it at your risk you get a call you leave a message I wrote letters I did everything I was sort of coached by people who were heard of before. And he's got enough. He's tricky enough to get a hold of that if he doesn't want to respond. You know take it personally that's. He's on the move your feet got it but if he does get it and he does like it and get the phone call everything. Everything changes because it from that point on. He's all in work as hard as you want shall where we want he offers to come back again keep improving it he's a perfectionist. So. But but he runs his own business he has an entourage of people around them assistance publicists. Edges him and his phone number. What was that call like what did he said okay I'll be that it could you basically he says yes all right sounds good all right so when he they have yet February. There is there anywhere okay. I. That was it now usually in Hollywood that you put the people in touch with an April as they look like lights in the view is that you get. This non and I called my friends and he said oh yeah that's it he's in. And today we can't Gayle he'll be there. And so it's like this leap of faith that you get everything ready every way and then he comes well how. Are you directing voice actors how is that different then when you're directing somebody in this do you got. Chris Walken again a voice that yet know whether avoid mr. he's skiing Lue he's this. He's not an rank him he's a gigantic advocates of acquitee that's my work it's it's because. They were ignoring it things in India in India and Walt Disney was unconcerned with that he just said I want it back moving 78 at work yet it at work I like that Uga and. And so but we wanted that scene because it was an important scene for the plot it's not in the Kipling. And those animals don't exist in reality. And in doing research Chris class my production designer found. In that part of the world that was a species published against the pit that gets that was from probably ninth to fifteen feet tall we don't know we have. Only partial fossils from it it's been extinct for tens of thousands of years and the closest living relatives and orangutan and that got me thinking. A huge. King Louis character in could be elected colonel Kurtz. But this big sloppily figure living in the ruins like an elected Apocalypse Now Olivetti's they minions yet around him. And so that sparked. A lot of ideas we hired weather for that sequence because they've done King Kong and plan the apes. And we were able to use a lot of similar technology to get the design of the face to look like a mask that could be worn by Christopher Walken we used all of his facial performance to drive. The model and so now you have a moment where it's a very life like realistic. Version of the giant primate that. Looks uncannily like Christopher Walken when you look closely at stake he does and then the and then the performance driving that is great voice in this and the boy and going into you know I wanna be like you go into a song yet. So that there's no stopping at the scene at all in voice that's right well he's he's you know he's a soft song and dance fan from way back yet he has and so to have him in the tricky pars to keep the tone consistent because this isn't. The original film was a G rated musical for key engine in this one. Yeah that's at PG. Very much more. Adrenaline to it more of a adventure film. And it can have scary elements Emilia king Louis despite walking and having fun with the is it scary. Yeah. Gigantic that the exactly what he can't he kinda hits and when you have Scarlett Johansson doing the voice to the pipe yes. She all of its Cobb. Who is he says that it's like. Three syllables and apparently a couple of letters to do that. Are you do you get worried when you're making a movie that you know as a family audience when maybe it might be too dark and anywhere who means is he was very if anything was pushing me more that way. Because I was the one who said oh it's you know it's jungle book and and I want to make sure we preserve the bare necessities in those relationships and they were very good with that but. They were encouraging of something that was was appealing to more more ages. In the original game we just did and sanitation the original would've been I think a little confusing. With the photo realism it it I don't know that it would have lined up well. But as we try to make it more of a hero's journey more of Joseph Campbell tight mythic story. You start to bring those elements in and you want this kid to be coming of age and facing really scary villains. Talk about a bill in part I mean it yourself but does the voice of share kind mrs. Really scary animals and saying I want you whether that young yet you belong here yet. And and what's interesting too is that you know if you really listen to his argument he's been scarred him by remotely father read fight however flower by fire. That man destroys everything. Man's gonna ruin this place. You know you're rooting for this kid but. It's hard to argue against animals being concerned about human intrusion into there haven't gotten me if it's only going in one direction and the animals are gonna win that one. And our rebuttal our relationship but nature's different now than it was a hundred years ago when Kipling wrote and I think that. What's nice about retelling these old stories is that you given a slightly different spin for each generation so it speaks few. What's going on now. And so I think it's it feels the you know somewhat timely and it feels like time to do another chapter fifty years at the last telling. All right so. In ending I'm and ask you to look at the movie that you must've seen in the editing room all. And told thousand times. Is there a moment in this movie that resonates for you not because it's the best. Scene in the movie but for use that it was something you wanted to achieve when he started out. To do it. One scene by a feeling that there's a feeling from that scene that you wanted to which. I think there's there's paid such a I don't know that it's going to be a moment that's gonna mean anything anybody I'd doesn't my favorite OK so so he says there's there's of this a moment when the the boys confronted. And he's told by the tiger that he has to leave the jungle. When the rains come back when the seasons change. And so it starts it starts to rain and that the wolves are concerned that time is common and the boy offers domino leave. He's accompanied by big Europe played by mr. Ben Kingsley and they go off in the rain and seek out the Mann village he's gonna have to leave this family. And he says goodbye to his mother who raised him Russia the wolf put repeat. And they say goodbye. And then touched foreheads. And what I like about that moment is. First of all. There's tremendous emotion. It's that exile that that that heartbreak that he. That even though it's an animated film to feel that. Even though it's done through visual effects. You could you still feel the human connection from the p.'s performance O'Neal's performance. We have the rain coming down which is classic Disney. Using the weather to actually emotion and also the thing he does as he runs his hands through the fur of the wolf. And that's something that's probably the hardest shot whole film. That's something you you very rarely seen in a movie because it's very difficult to take a real hands. A for real character put it through fake for of the fake terror here. And all of that has to not interfere it's not an effects moment it's an emotional moment. And so that moment just disappears. Elegantly. That the artists were able to. Give it just the right touch and and John deadly his music swelling up in there it's like every. Every different department performances the writing the music. The set design all of that working together for one moment where it's very simply just feel something it was all based on it illustration than that one of our artists. So. It's one of those moments as a filmmaker where all kinda. Clicks together. And nobody pays attention to any of the things I just told you only use they have you extra experience and feel at home they're feeling which is and it's a movie that's filled with those moments. They really it thing. But you know John that we in the show and so. Aha you do know it. And I can't it seemed to actually played below for him sometimes here. You gotta do it and bare necessities come up okay. Look for the. Man necessities. The simple band necessities. Forget about your worries than yours for. I'm mean the band necessities. Film mother nature's recipes. That bring the bare necessities. Of life. Look at that. People how can you not see this movie. Go and now you get the extra bonus you can have that song for the blue river but. On the actually Q thank you thanks for having me and always thanks in a thoughtful. Conversation. It's alternate routes planes that aren't aren't the most obvious and but it always of the things that are of most. Interest to me even amid don't know we've made it to the well I don't know wanted to talk about the Kardashians but we had note so I'm sorry. And I saw and thank you thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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