At the D23 Expo in Anaheim this summer, I was in the room when Jon Favreau walked on stage to present a first-look at early footage from his reimagining of THE LION KING. I truly wish that all of you could see it, because it’s phenomenal. Still, it was unfinished, but an evolution of the photorealistic animation that Favreau did so well with on last year’s THE JUNGLE BOOK. Today comes word from Disney that the cast for this new vision for the 1994 animated classic has been assembled. See the full lineup below!
“It is a director’s dream to assemble a talented team like this to bring this classic story to life,” said Favreau.
From the Official Announcement: Lions rule the African savanna in “The Lion King,” which welcomes Donald Glover (“Atlanta,” “Solo: A Star Wars Story”) as future king Simba, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (“Dreamgirls,” “Lemonade” visual album) as Simba’s friend-turned-love interest Nala, and James Earl Jones (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Field of Dreams”) as Simba’s wise and loving father, Mufasa, reprising his iconic performance from Disney’s 1994 animated classic. Chiwetel Ejiofor (“Twelve Years a Slave,” Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange”) was called on to portray Simba’s villainous uncle Scar, and Alfre Woodard (“Juanita,” Marvel’s “Luke Cage”) portrays Simba’s no-nonsense mother, Sarabi. JD McCrary (OWN’s “Tyler Perry’s The Paynes,” Apple’s “Vital Signs”) fills the shoes of Young Simba, a confident cub who can’t wait to be king, and Shahadi Wright Joseph (NBC’s “Hairspray Live,” Broadway’s “The Lion King”) brings tough cub Young Nala to life.
Every kingdom comes with a trustworthy advisor or two. John Kani (“Coriolanus,” Marvel Studios’ “Captain America: Civil War”) was cast as the wise baboon Rafiki, and John Oliver (HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”) was tapped as hornbill Zazu, Mufasa’s loyal confidant. When Simba goes into exile, he relies on two newfound friends—Seth Rogen (“Sausage Party,” “Neighbors”) lends his comedic chops to naïve warthog Pumbaa, and Billy Eichner (“Billy on the Street,” FX’s “American Horror Story”) joins the cast as know-it-all meerkat Timon.
While most of the animals in the kingdom respect the king, the hyenas have other plans. Florence Kasumba (NBC’s “Emerald City,” Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther”) portrays Shenzi, Eric André (Adult Swim’s “The Eric André Show,” FXX’s “Man Seeking Woman”) is Azizi, and Keegan-Michael Key (“Predator,” Netflix’s “Friends from College”) plays Kamari.
“The Lion King” is directed by Favreau (“The Jungle Book,” Marvel Studios’ “Iron Man”) and produced by Favreau, Jeffrey Silver (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Edge of Tomorrow”) and Karen Gilchrist (“The Jungle Book,” “Chef”). Jeff Nathanson (“Catch Me If You Can,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”) penned the screenplay based on the 1994 screenplay by Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts and Linda Woolverton. Tom Peitzman (co-producer “Kong: Skull Island,” “Alice in Wonderland”) and Thomas Schumacher (“The Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast”) are executive producers, and John Bartnicki (“The Jungle Book,” “Chef”) is co-producer. The award-winning team of artists tapped to bring the African savanna and its animal inhabitants to life include visual effects supervisor Rob Legato, who conceived the virtual production on “Avatar,” won Academy Awards® for his work on “The Jungle Book,” “Hugo” and “Titanic,” and was nominated for an Oscar® for his work on “Apollo 13.”
The film’s animation supervisor is Oscar®-winner Andrew R. Jones (“The Jungle Book,” “Avatar,” “World War Z”). VFX supervisor is Adam Valdez (“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”), who won an Oscar for his work on “The Jungle Book.” Five-time Oscar nominee Caleb Deschanel, ASC, (“Jack Reacher,” “The Patriot”), is director of photography, and James Chinlund (“War for the Planet of the Apes,” “Marvel’s The Avengers”) serves as the production designer. Oscar winner Ben Grossman (“Alice in Wonderland,” “Hugo,” “Star Trek into Darkness”) is virtual production supervisor, and Mark Livolsi, ACE, (“The Jungle Book,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” “The Blind Side”) and Adam Gerstel (“Transformers: The Last Knight,” “The Jungle Book”) are editors. Hans Zimmer (“Dunkirk,” “Hidden Figures”), who won an Oscar for his score for the animated classic, will score the adventure.