After the massive success of Beauty and the Beast, it seems Disney has the format for live-action remakes of animated movies down pat. Some critics suggest it’s a somewhat lazy approach to filmmaking, but no one can deny the box office numbers. Cinderella and The Jungle Book both raked in millions of dollars worldwide and were quite well-received by critics. Encouraged by yet another winner, Disney now has a full slate of live-action remakes, and perhaps the most anticipated is Jon Favreau’s The Lion King.
While some key casting announcements have already been made, there are still plenty of big roles to fill, including the film’s villain, Scar. Played so memorably by Jeremy Irons in the original, Scar is one of the most iconic Disney villains of all time thanks to his odd charm, his shockingly evil deeds, and the fantastic song “Be Prepared”.
Taking over the role will be no easy task. The actor will have to deliver a voice performance matches James Earl Jones’ Mufasa, reaches the same villainous heights Irons in the original, and gives us something new.
Let’s see which actors could go down in the Disney villain Hall of Fame with the 15 Actors Who Could Play Scar In The Lion King Remake!
15. Jeremy Irons
Yes, it’s an obvious choice, but if Favreau is willing to recast James Earl Jones in his iconic role, he has to at least consider asking Irons to return to Pride Rock. And you wouldn’t hear many people complaining either.
Irons completely owned the role of Scar, giving one of the greatest performances in an animated film. His sophisticated and delicate vocals played perfectly off of Jones’ booming voice.. Under Irons’ performance, Scar became that ideal on-screen villain who you hate for the things he does, but are somehow charmed by him as well. Irons specializes in playing deliciously evil characters, so he’s exercised his Scar muscles many times of the years.
However, seeing as Favreau already brought Jones back for the remake, it’s unlikely we’ll see Irons back in the role of Scar. If he did come back as well, we’d start to question why they don’t just bring the whole original cast back. Then we’d start to wonder why they’re making the movie at all. We all know he can play the role but it might be time for a new take on Scar.
14. Mads Mikkelsen
You really can’t talk about casting a villain these days without at least considering Mads Mikkelsen. While he seems like a perfectly nice person in real life, there’s a distinct creepy, menacing quality to him on screen that makes him an obvious go-to to play baddies. He’s played memorable antagonists to such on-screen heroes as James Bond and Doctor Strange. He even did the impossible by playing a version of Hannibal Lecter that rivaled Anthony Hopkins’ iconic performance.
Mikkelsen certainly has the look of a villain, and even sported an eye scar in Casino Royale that was quite similar to the villainous lion. But even just his voice can be intimidating enough on its own. His unusual Danish accent mixed with the cool and calm style of his delivery can be quite unnerving.
Mikkelsen would certain give audiences a much different take on Scar. Whereas the original version was big and flamboyant, Mikkelsen’s Scar would likely be a quieter, more calculating menace, which could supply an extra bit of darkness to the film. Though it might be a bit too frightening for kids.
13. James Spader
There are many factors that should be considered in the casting of Scar, but one of the most important aspects is an interesting voice. It needs to be that kind of fascinating voice we could listen to for hours, yet still be menacing at the same time. James Spader fits these specifications to a T.
We might not have included Spader on the list of actors with those hypnotic voices were it not for Avengers: Age of Ultron. He was perfectly cast as the villainous robot and his performance was one of the highlights of that film. Ultron actually shares a lot in common with Scar, which suggests that Spader would similarly knock this part out of the park. He’s intelligent yet petulant, with a sort of sassy sense of humor. Going for the sort of laid-back, disarmingly mellow type of performance that Spader does so well would be a really fun take on the character.
12. Ralph Fiennes
While Ralph Fiennes has built an eclectic career out of a variety of roles, he also has an unusual number of iconic film villains on his filmography. Voldemort, Hades, Amon Goeth— each a terrifying performance that proves he can create a compelling villain in his sleep.
Fiennes has that similar aristocratic, British gentleman voice which served Irons so well when he played Scar. Some of the best cinematic villains have that juxtaposition between having a refined manner while doing terrible things, making for a more fascinating characterization. Fiennes could certainly give us that kind of interesting performance while also giving us something new.
Fiennes has recently been shining in more humorous roles. He nearly stole the show in In Bruges as an ethical yet short-tempered mobster and he was hilarious as a cultured buffoon in The Grand Budapest Hotel. If he were to bring some of that humor to the role of Scar it could make for a very different and interesting version of the character.
11. Tilda Swinton
There’s no rule saying that the character has to remain a male. Favreau did this quite effectively in The Jungle Book in casting Scarlett Johansson as the hypnotic snake Kaa. So if you’re going to cast a female as Scar, you might as well consider one of the best actress around; Tilda Swinton.
Swinton is known for such acclaimed roles in We Need to Talk About Kevin and Michael Clayton, but recently she has been embracing some more mainstream projects. No matter the size of the film, Swinton always seems to bring something interesting and unique to each of her roles. It would be thrilling to see what she could do with Scar, especially when the relationship with Mufasa is changed from two brothers to brother and sister.
While we haven’t seen much of her voice work, Swinton does have that refined British accent that seems to fit the character so well. She has also proven she can be a very compelling villain in the Chronicles of Narnia series. While not the typical choice, there’s little doubt Swinton would be as awesome in the role as she always is in every role.
10. Michael Keaton
Of course, while Jeremy Irons’ rich British voice is very linked in our minds to Scar, there’s no reason the actor who portrays him in the remake can’t be an American. Regardless of their accent, we just want someone who can deliver an effective and interesting villain performance – and Michael Keaton can certainly do that.
After all these years and dozens of amazing performances, it’s hard not to separate Keaton from the heroic role in Batman, but he’s actually shown he can be a very fun bad guy. From Beetlejuice to Desperate Measures and even the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming, Keaton does great with those unhinged baddies. Whereas the original Scar was a plotting evil genius, Keaton’s Scar could be more of a smarmy, conman-type whose not above stepping over anyone to gain a powerful position. This could be an very fun take on the character and would really let Keaton shine in the role.
9. Christoph Waltz
Like Mads Mikkelsen, Christoph Waltz seems to be at the top of every casting director’s list when looking for a villain. Ever since his fairly recent arrival to Hollywood, Waltz has played baddies in such high profile films as The Green Hornet, The Three Musketeers, The Legend of Tarzan, and Spectre, while his performance as Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds will go down as one of cinema’s greatest villains. So it’s really a no-brainer to throw him on this list.
Even though it might seem a bit predictable, Waltz has all the right qualities to pull off the role of Scar. With Landa, he can perfectly play that wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing role, portraying Scar as a loving uncle and brother before turning on Simba and Mufasa. He is also endlessly charming. In just about every movie in which he plays the villain, he’s much more likable than the hero. Waltz also has a very compelling voice that can draw the audience in and make them interested in what a CGI lion is saying.
8. David Oyelowo
Thanks to highly acclaimed roles in films like Selma and Lee Daniel’s The Butler, David Oyelowo has become one of the most respected up-and-coming actors, so isn’t it time that he officially sold-out with a Disney movie remake?
But seriously, though Oyelowo has been recognized as playing noble characters, the gravitas he brings to his performances would be hugely beneficial for Scar. Oyelowo is a powerful performer with a voice that immediately draws us in. He’s one of the few younger actors who would not be blown off the screen sharing a scene with James Earl Jones. In the original version of The Lion King, Scar points out that while Mufasa represents the brawns in the family, he got the brains. There’s no doubt that Oyelowo could play the sort of villain whose power comes from his intelligence.
7. Viola Davis
Irons brought a lot of charm and even some wry humor to the role, but in the new version, it might be interesting to go for a more three-dimensional version of the character. If we’re looking for an actor who can deliver such a performance, we need look no further than Viola Davis.
Davis has made a career out of delivering extremely powerful performances in films like Doubt, The Help, and her Oscar-winning role in Fences. And while Suicide Squad was not as well-reviewed as those films, Davis was one of the few highlights of that film. As Amanda Waller, she proved she can play cold-hearted, calculating, and murderous as well as anyone.
We’ve already discussed the potential of gender-swapping Scar, and with Davis in the role, this could be a really be a complex villain. Instead of making Scar a jealous sibling, Davis could bring more depth, possibly making us even sympathize with Scar’s ambitions for the throne. Regardless, anyone who has seen her in Fences knows, even just as a voice actor, she could give a truly powerful performance.
6. Andy Serkis
If we’re talking about an actor playing a CGI animal, we must put Andy Serkis on that list.
More than any other actor, Serkis has proven that you can play an animated character with as much emotion as a live-action character. While it’s not clear if there will be any motion capture elements to this role, as is Serkis’ wont, he has proven that his voice acting is some of the best around. Having given the iconic performance as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings, he can certainly play the schemer, and he’s been getting further villain practice as Klaue in Avengers: Age of Ultron and the upcoming Black Panther.
Serkis has a lot of respect for these kind of performances, and although this is likely going to be a bright and fun Disney movie, having someone who is committed to giving a genuine performance even from a sound booth can really help to elevate the quality of the film. The only conflict might be with his delayed Jungle Book film. He could be a bit sick of playing talking animals.
5. Viggo Mortensen
Serkis’ Lord of the Rings co-star, Viggo Mortensen has consciously stepped away from big budget films since Peter Jackson’s epic series, but if he could be persuaded to join a more high profile project, he would make a great and unique version of Scar.
Mortensen is always a really compelling actor no matter what film he’s in, and the fact that he’s not a regular leading man could add a lot to this role. Even in a movie like Captain Fantastic, in which Mortensen plays a fairly good man, there’s certain things in that performance that suggest he’d make an excellent villain. Firstly, it’s an excellent performance, but there’s also something off-kilter about him that suggests an unhinged quality.
While we don’t see Mortensen in the villain role too often, he could give us a much darker, almost psychotic take on Scar. And the fact that he rarely appears in films on this nature means we could get a chance to see him really chew the scenery, which would no doubt be highly entertaining.
4. Mark Hamill
Yes, Mark Hamill is best known as being one of cinema’s most recognizable heroes, Luke Skywalker (a role he’ll soon be reprising), but there are quite a few people that know him just as well for his performance as the comic book world’s greatest villain, The Joker.
With his work on Batman: The Animated Series, Hamill created an incarnation of The Joker that is still many people’s favorite performance of the character. He is funny, scary, unpredictable, and his voice is nearly unrecognizable in the role. Truly, Hamill is a gifted voice actor and perhaps that’s all this role needs. While you could roll the dice by casting an A-list actor in the role, why not get someone who definitely knows what they’re doing?
Based on his Joker performance alone, Hamill could steal the whole movie as Scar. He has a way of changing his voice to make it instantly terrifying, yet somehow alluring. It’s just what this role needs, and can you imagine Scar letting out that iconic Joker laugh after throwing Mufasa to his death? Chilling.
3. Cate Blanchett
One of the most intriguing aspects of Scar in the original film was the sort of elegance he had to him. The way he walked, the way he talked, and even the way he threatened had a great delicacy to it. A lot of that was thanks to Irons’ performance, but if you want to embrace that aspect of the character in the new film, Cate Blanchett is one of the most elegant actors around.
Blanchett has that sort of posh English personalities that fits the character so nicely. As elegant as she is, her acting abilities are such that she could bring the proper villainous qualities to the role as well. She can be icy cool as well as deeply threatening. She’s already appeared in Disney’s live-action Cinderella as the evil stepmother, and audiences will soon get to see her darker side in Thor: Ragnarok.
2. Charles Dance
Game of Thrones has a lot of memorable villains, like Joffrey and Ramsay, but probably the show’s most effective bad guy is Tywin Lannister, and a lot of that is thanks to Charles Dance’s chilling performance.
If you’re looking for someone who has the same cool yet intimidating voice of Irons, than look no further than Dance. He’s one of those rare actors who can command a scene without raising his voice at all. So often in Game of Thrones he would be saying awful, horrendous things to Tyrion, or describing the merits of The Red Wedding, and sound polite while doing so. And though Irons went rather “big”, Dance could likely achieve just as much with his more quiet approach.
Some of the actors on this list would have added a new and fresh take on Scar, but sometimes it’s nice to see something closer to what you loved about the first film. While Dance would certainly not make a carbon-copy version of Jeremy Irons’ Scar and would bring something of his own to the role, he would be the perfect actor to recreate a villain so many fans love.
1. Mahershala Ali
Mahershala Ali has quickly become one of the most exciting up-and-coming actors in Hollywood today. He started his career as a supporting actor on big projects like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Predators, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. He then gained a lot of acclaim on House of Cards before having an extraordinary year in 2016.
Within the twelve month period, his appeared as the villain in the Marvel/Netflix series Luke Cage, appeared in the box office smash and Academy Award nominated Hidden Figures, and won an Oscar himself for his amazing performance in Moonlight. Obviously, Ali will be at the top of every casting director’s list right now, but hopefully his schedule doesn’t fill up too quickly because he would be the perfect Scar in Favreau’s Lion King.
Just look at Ali’s performance as Cottonmouth in Luke Cage for all the evidence you need. He effortlessly switches from calm to cool, to caring, to self-conscious, to violent rage. He’s a phenomenal actor and Favreau would be lucky to have him on Pride Rock.
Which actor would you like to see play Scar in the live-action The Lion King remake? Let us know in the comments!