John Kani, the actor who played T’Challa’s father, King T’Chaka, in Captain America: Civil War, has been cast to play the pivotal role of Rafiki in Disney’s live-action version of The Lion King. First released in 1994, the animated classic The Lion King is one of the Mouse House’s most coveted properties, amassing more than $968.4 million at the global box office, and earning a pair of Oscars for Best Original Song (“Can You Feel the Love Tonight” for Elton John and Tim Rice) and Best Original Score (for composer Hans Zimmer).
The story of the young cub, Simba, who disappears from his village after he feels responsible for the death of his lion father, King Mufasa, The Lion King was loaded with stellar voice performances, including Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Matthew Broderick as the young and adult versions of Simba; James Earl Jones as Mufasa; Jeremy Irons as Mufasa’s brother and Simba’s uncle, the villainous Scar; and Moira Kelly as Simba’s eventual mate, Nala.
Also featured in the film was the voice of legendary actor Robert Guillame, who brought life to the baboon Rafiki, who served as Mufasa’s royal adviser and presented the baby Simba on Pride Rock after the cub’s birth. Now, with casting of director Jon Favreau’s live-action version of The Lion King nearing completion, the production revealed the actor who will be assuming the role of Rafiki.
According to The Wrap, Kani has officially been cast as Rafiki, about three weeks after the character was featured in footage at Disney’s D23 Expo. Favreau reportedly dazzled the crowd with the film’s “Circle of Life” opening sequence, which, like in the animated version, concludes with Rafiki hoisting Simba above his head on Pride Rock as he presents the newborn to the denizens of the Pride Lands.
Kani is an excellent choice for the role of Rafiki. Even though he will acting out the role via motion capture, the actor’s commanding voice and stately presence will come in handy in realizing the role of Rafiki. In addition to Captain America: Civil War, Kani’s credits over his nearly four decades in film includes the Michael Douglas/Val Kilmer thriller The Ghost and the Darkness, the titular role in Othello, and General Coriolanus in director Ralph Fiennes’ war thriller Coriolanus. In addition, Kani will reportedly reprise his role (presumably via flashback) in Black Panther next year.
Following the early announcements of Donald Glover’s casting as Simba, Jones as Mufasa, and Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner as Pumbaa and Timon, respectively, casting for the remainder of the The Lion King cast finally started to fall in the place the last few weeks. Talk show host John Oliver recently joined the cast as Zazu, Chiwetel Ejiofor is in talks to play Scar, and on Monday, Oscar nominee Alfre Woodard was cast to play Simba’s mother, Sarabi. At this rate, more casting announcements are bound to be announced soon, and moviegoers will find out whether Favreau’s wish for Beyonce Knowles to play Nala has been granted.
Source: The Wrap
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