The lesson of Hakuna Matata will officially be coming back to theaters everywhere in 2019. Disney has released the official cast list for the upcoming “The Lion King,” and the class is as star-studded as ever. Of course, the most talked-about casting is Beyoncé, who will be using her vocal talents as Nala.
Beyoncé has reportedly been eyed for this role for months now, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Beyoncé has previously voiced a character in 2013’s “Epic.” She has also starred in a variety of movies, including “Austin Powers in Goldmember,” “Dreamgirls,” and “Obsessed.”
The director of the “The Lion King” live-action remake will be 2016’s director of “The Jungle Book,” Jon Favreau. In a press release, Favreau stated, “It is a director’s dream to assemble a talented team like this to bring this classic story to life.”
In addition to Beyoncé, the cast is packed with stars, making this film so highly anticipated.
For starters, James Earl Jones will be reprising his role as Mufasa. Could we imagine a more beautiful way to pay homage to the 1994 classic? Donald Glover will play Simba. Chiwetel Ejiofor will be playing Simba’s uncle, Scar. Alfre Woodard is voicing Simba’s mother Sarabi, with child actor JD McCrary playing the young version of Simba, which Jonathan Taylor Thomas previously voiced. Shahadi Wright Joseph will be voicing young Nala.
Along the way, Simba meets two friends. The warthog, Pumba, will be voiced by Seth Rogen; the meerkat, Timon, will be played by Billy Eichner. John Oliver will be playing Zazu. The three threatening hyenas will be portrayed by Florence Kasumba, Eric Andre, and Keegan-Michael Key.
This inclusive cast of people of color is refreshing to see. The original 1994 film featured a compelling cast of white individuals, an odd choice for a story set presumably set in Kenya. However, with Hollywood’s historical struggles of casting people of color, this is definitely something to celebrate, not to mention everyone on this list is talented in their own ways.
At the bi-annual D23 Expo, the ultimate Disney fan experience for D23 club members this past summer, Disney previewed its first clip for “The Lion King” to a crowd of 7,000. This was exclusively shown to this crowd and not posted online simultaneously. The clip featured an African landscape ending with the iconic moment when Rafiki lifts young Simba to the sky to “Circle of Life.”
The original film grossed over $986 million worldwide, quite a staggering number for the remake to stand up to. Favreau’s “The Jungle Book” made $966 worldwide in 2016. Since this film will be in Favreau’s hands, the film can make a big sum for Walt Disney.
Disney has had tremendous success with its live-action endeavors so far. Some have included “Alice in Wonderland” (2010), directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp; “Maleficent”(2014), a twisted telling of the familiar “Sleeping Beauty” Disney film, starring Angelina Jolie; and “Cinderella” (2015). Most recently, Disney fans flocked to theaters for the live-action remake of “Beauty and The Beast,” starring the beloved Emma Watson as Belle.
Regarding music for the film, Hans Zimmer was confirmed to provide the score. Zimmer also scored the 1994 original film.
The film is set to be released on June 19th, 2019, which is dreadfully far away from now. Until then, we’ll be imagining a beautiful duet between Beyoncé and Donald Glover singing “Can You Feel The Love Tonight?”