Casting on Jon Favreau’s live-action rendition of The Lion King is now beginning to enter the home stretch. And what an ensemble it has in tow.
From Donald Glover (Han Solo, Spider-Man: Homecoming) leading the charge as Simba to the great James Earl Jones reprising his role as Mufasa, Disney’s modern reimagining hasn’t been left wanting for A-list talent. That starry cast has now expanded by one, with The Hollywood Reporter revealing that Luke Cage actress Alfre Woodard has signed on to voice Sarabi, Simba’s doting mother.
Before storming the streets of Harlem as the devious Mariah Dillard, Woodard collected roles on Burning Sands and State of Affairs, and will next be seen in Saint Judy. For The Lion King, however, she joins an ensemble that already includes Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as meerkat/warthog double act Timon and Pumbaa, not to mention the Oscar-nominated Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar. Word is that the latter pipped Hugh Jackman (Logan) at the post, though we have no doubt in our minds that Ejiofor will bring a sense of gravitas to the character in his King Claudius-esque plot to claim Mufasa’s throne.
Behind the scenes, Jeff Nathanson (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) is the screenwriter behind the latest draft, and after the back-to-back success of The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast, the Mouse House will be hoping to make it three for three with live-action fairytale remakes. For the record, Jon Favreau is also attached to direct a Jungle Book sequel in the not-so-distant future.
The Lion King is currently shooting in Los Angeles ahead of an expected release in 2019. Other live-action reboots in the works at Disney include Mulan, Dumbo, the fabled Pinocchio, and Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin, the latter of which recently cast Marwan Kenzari in the villainous role of Jafar.