Jill Layton
Updated March 23, 2016

We are SO excited for director Jon Favreau’s adaptation of The Jungle Book, we can barely contain the resurfacing of our childhood Jungle Book emotions.The Disney film is set to be released on April 15, and we’re counting down the days.

To hold us over (probably), Disney released new photos of the voice actors posing with their imposed animated characters. That’s Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Giancarlo Esposito, Ben Kingsley and Christopher Walken posing with animals that could definitely eat them. But fortunately for them, the animals were all CGI. Safety first.

In a recent interview, Favreau explained the purpose of using a blend of live action and CGI technology to make the wild animals look extremely real.

“We wanted to give a new take on some of it but maintain the traditions of both Rudyard Kipling’s book and the 1967 animated film,” Favreau told PEOPLE. “We set out to design a world that felt at once both authentic to India and also felt mythic and dreamlike.”

It’s not hard to understand what he means after looking at the incredible photos the cast took with their animal counterparts.

Johansson sitting directly next to the really, really big mouth of Kaa the python:


“Scarlett brings such a different energy than she does to other things,” Favreau said. “She’s great. There is an innocence about her vocal performance and at the same time feels a little suspicious and off-putting. It’s interesting.”

Elba casually being spooned by Khan the villain:


“The movie only works if the villain works, that’s the secret,” Favreau explained. “All of Idris’ personality and power come through in his voice. The animators had a wonderful time incorporating a lot of his body language and a lot of his facial performance that matches up with his voice.”

Nyong’o gently cuddling Raksha the wolf:


While Nyong’o plays the role of Mowgli’s adoptive mother, Esposito plays the role of his adoptive father Akela. “She’s a very warm person and very open and enthusiastic,” Favreau said of Nyong’o. “Giancarlo is wonderful, Favreau added. “He brought a really cool not obvious performance to it. There’s a certain gentleness to him but he also has power.”

Esposito posing with Akela:


Walken looking unfazed by sitting in the lap of King Louie:


“With certain animals, using direct motion capture is helpful, like for King Louie,” Favreau explained. “Christopher Walken has such specific performance style that you want to capture that and we want to build the model to really match the face of Chris Walken.”

Kingsley and Bagheera posing for their portrait:


Favreau said the film is going going to look different than anything done before

“We’re kind of building off a tool set that was built for the most part for Avatar. The big thing was if we were going to commit to creating a world digitally, we needed to make it indistinguishable from nature as best we could, use the latest technology and if it was required, build new tools.”

We can’t wait!