After the massive success of live-action remakes like The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast, it was a no-brainer for Disney to next tackle one of their most beloved films to date – 1994 classic The Lion King. With Jon Favreau attached to direct, the project has been amassing its cast for the past few months. Donald Glover’s signed up to voice Simba, with James Earl Jones reprising his role as Simba’s father Mufasa. More recently, Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen were revealed to be playing meerkat/warthog double act Timon and Pumbaa.
The latest casting announcement, courtesy of The Wrap, reveals that John Oliver has joined the movie to voice Zazu. In the original, the red-billed hornbill was Mufasa’s majordomo and most trusted advisor. His British fuddy-duddy nature was brilliantly brought to life by Rowan Atkinson. On the face of it, then, casting another English comedian in the role sounds like a great idea.
With this announcement, that leaves very few of the movie’s major players left to cast. The biggest one is Scar, Simba’s evil uncle and the film’s villain. Jeremy Irons was terrific in the original so Disney might be after another British villain actor to take on the role this time around. Other parts include Scar’s trio of hyena henchmen, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, and Simba’s lioness love, Nala. Beyonce was rumoured to be starring in that role but that has yet to be officially confirmed.
The Lion King is just one of a whole host of classic Disney animated properties being given live-action remakes. Others on the way include Dumbo, Mulan and Aladdin. The tale of the flying elephant is first out the door, with a release date of March 29th, 2019. The story of Simba and his pals is then set to land in cinemas on July 19th.