Lion King’s Strong Suit is Casting, According to Jon Favreau

Zazu and Simba in The Lion King 2019

During a set visit to The Lion King, we learned just how proud director Jon Favreau is of the cast he assembled to breathe new life into Pride Rock. Disney introduced iconic characters in the 1994 animated classic, which means this year’s reimagining has a lot to live up to. As much as fans argue about Scar’s new look, the final verdict will come down to performances.

On that front, Favreau thinks he has it covered. On set, he demonstrated how the animation and visual effects teams transformed the actors’ performances into realistic key-frame animations. Beyond that, though, he boasted that the casting was spot-on from the film’s inception.

Related: Every Live-Action Disney Remake in Development

“One of the things I think I’ve been very lucky with and have done well, is casting throughout my career,” he said. The Marvel Cinematic Universe can attest to that, given Robert Downey Jr’s decade-long box office reign – and it looks like he’s done with again with The Lion King. “I’m equally grateful on this one, let’s put it that way. They are just wonderful and to find people who can sing and perform and can remind you of an echo of the performances that you remember.”

Actors who can sing certainly elevate a musical production, something Naomi Scott’s rendition of “Speechless” proved in Aladdin. But a remake has to do more than remind viewers of the past; it also has to provide a new perspective. The director seemed confident that his take on the classic tale would bring “something fresh and new,” in large part thanks to seasoned actors and performers like Donald Glover and Beyoncé. On the other hand, the reverence for the original would remain paramount. Casting James Earl Jones, for example, was a testament to tradition.

“It feels very current, but it also feels connected. And having James Earl Jones, I think, really helped with that connection.” Favreau complimented the veteran actor, whose voice sent chills down many Disney fans’ spines when the trailer first premiered. “He really carries the tradition, and his voice has so much character to it and it’s so closely associated with Mufasa.”

Though the trailer has already showcased some of the cast’s talents in terms of voice acting, audiences still have the songs to look forward to. While there will be no original songs added to the body of the film, many of the actors are acclaimed singers who are sure to add flavor to their solos. We’ll have to wait for The Lion King to hit theaters to see the performances in full, but Favreau’s words added to the excitement. “I think [the cast] will be one of our strong suits,” he added. “We’re not changing that much, so it’s good to have the things you are changing work. And that’s one that I think you will enjoy.”

Whose performance are you most looking forward to when the film arrives in July? Let us know in the comments below and stay tuned to Screen Rant for more Lion King coverage.

More: Lion King 2019 Cast & Character Guide

Key Release Dates
  • The Lion King (2019) release date: Jul 19, 2019
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