Disney reveals main cast for 'The Lion King' remake
The main cast for the live action remake of The Lion King has been announced by Disney. Donald Glover will play the lead role of Simba, while Beyoncé has been confirmed to play the role of Nala, finally settling rumors that Disney was trying to cast the pop star in the role.
The movie will feature a largely black cast, including 12 Years a Slave's Chiwetel Ejiofor as villain Scar (originally voiced by Jeremy Irons), Alfre Woodard as Simba's mother, Sarabi (originally voiced by Madge Sinclair), Florence Kasumba as hyena Shenzi (originally voiced by Whoopi Goldberg), very different lion movie The Ghost and the Darkness' John Kani as baboon wise man Rafiki, with JD McCrary and Shahadi Wright Joseph as the younger versions of Simba and Nala (originally voiced by Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Niketa Calame, with Matthew Broderick and Moira Kelly as the character's adult voices). Additionally, James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader, will reprise his role as Mufasa, while Eric André and Keegan-Michael Key will be playing Azizi and Kamari, character names that didn't appear in the original (though they may be new names for missing hyenas Banzai and Ed, as placement on the announcement image flanking Shenzi would seem to suggest). Further voices are provided by John Oliver as hornbill majordomo Zazu (originally voiced by Rowan Atkinson), with Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to Simba's Hamlet, meerkat Timon and warthog Pumbaa (originally voiced by Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella).
The movie will be directed by Jon Favreau, most famous for being the original director of the Marvel Cinematic Universe,who previously directed the live action remake of The Jungle Book. That movie won Best Visual Effects at the Oscars, thanks to the realistic CG animals used in the movies. In fact, some have pointed out that under the rules of the Oscars, The Jungle Book could have competed as an animated movie; the human character Mowgli was the only live action part of the movie. The Lion King does not have any human characters, which does bring into question exactly how "live action" the "live action" remake will be.
The original Lion King was the first Disney animated movie to not be directly adapted from anything, though many have pointed out it seems to have been at least partially inspired by the Japanese animated series Kimba the White Lion mashed up with William Shakespeare's play Hamlet. The movie still holds the box office record for a "traditionally" animated feature film. It inspired two direct to video sequels, The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride and the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead to The Lion King's Hamlet, The Lion King 1 1/2, two cartoon series, Timon & Pumbaa and The Lion Guard, a notoriously difficult video game and a Broadway stage play.
Though there are multiple live action remakes of Disney animated features scheduled, talking animal movies are not being given priority, though 2019 will also feature Tim Burton's Dumbo.