Disney has just announced the full cast for the upcoming not-actually-live-action remake of The Lion King, directed by Jon Favreau hot off the success of the remake of The Jungle Book.
As previously announced, Donald Glover, who will next be seen as Lando Calrissian in Han Solo: A Star Wars Story, will voice Simba, while James Earl Jones will reprise his role from the original film as Mufasa — the only actor from the original film set to return for the remake as far as we know.
As for the rest of the cast, Beyoncé will indeed voice Nala, as has been rumored for some time. She previously starred in Dreamgirls and the animated film Epic and was reportedly offered a role in Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast, which she denied.
Chiwetel Ejiofor will step in for Jeremy Irons as Scar, and Alfre Woodard will voice Sarabi. Both actors have recently appeared in Disney-Marvel properties: Ejiofor in Doctor Strange, and Woodard in Luke Cage on Netflix. Hugh Jackman was previously (incorrectly) reported to voice Scar.
A young actor by the name of JD McCrary will voice young Simba, and Shahadi Wright Joseph, who has actually performed in The Lion King on Broadway, will voice young Nala. McCrary currently appears in Tyler Perry’s The Paynes on OWN.
John Kani, another Disney-Marvel alum, has been cast as Rafiki, while actor-comedians John Oliver, Seth Rogen, and Billy Eichner will provide the voices of Zazu, Timon, and Pumbaa, respectively. The hyenas will be voiced by Eric André (Azizi), Florence Kasumba (Shenzi), and Keegan-Michael Key (Kamari). Kasumba will next appear in Black Panther. Key is best known for his work on the sketch series Key & Peele on Comedy Central, but he’s gone on to do quite a lot of voice acting, with roles in animated films like The LEGO Movie, Hotel Transylvania 2, The Angry Birds Movie, Storks, and The Star.
I think it goes without saying that this is a stellar cast. I have to say, though, that I wish Jeremy Irons were reprising his role as Scar here. He brought a lot to that character in the original film, and I think it’s odd to recast Scar but not Mufasa. I would maybe have liked to see some other actors from the original film return, like Nathan Lane or Whoopi Goldberg, but I’m not particularly upset about any of the new casting.
So, there you have it. The Lion King remake is moving full steam ahead, whether we really want it or not. I’m not sure if this is a movie I want to be remade, but I’m interested in seeing what Disney and Jon Favreau do with it. And if it doesn’t work out, well, we’ll always have the original. Hakuna matata.
The “re-imagined” Lion King will be released in theaters on July 19, 2019.