The Lion King: Donald Glover Brings a Fresh New Energy to Simba

While visiting the set of The Lion King, the importance of Donald Glover as Simba became readily apparent to us. With the film’s premiere date fast approaching, prospective audiences wait with bated breath to see the cast in their full glory. Every film needs its lead performers to shine, even if they won’t appear onscreen. Based on director Jon Favreau’s glowing review, it seems Donald Glover will do just that as Simba.

Favreau had his eye on Glover for the role of Simba since meeting him at a THR round table, he explained while offering a sneak of the film set’s daily activities. One of the things that drew him to the actor and singer was their shared background in improv and comedy. Before becoming world-famous as Childish Gambino, Glover had not only starred in Community but also written for 30 Rock. For that reason, “I was hoping to have a common language with him,” Favreau said. Because with practical experience in improvisation, “you take scenes apart differently and you use different terms than you would if you came out of Julliard.”

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Thought The Lion King does not provide much room for improvisation when every frame must go through animation and visual effects, the performances still had to be as naturalistic as possible to create believable characters. In that way, Favreau felt Glover’s comedy background would be an asset. “You bring in a different set of experiences than when you work on a film set,” he added, “And I like that feeling.”

Donald Glover as Simba in The Lion King

As much as The Lion King is sticking close to its source material, there’s room for slight character re-interpretation that comes with new actors filling the roles. For that reason, Favreau hoped to give an experienced actor like Glover freedom “to collaborate, not just in the performance but in the material and the lines.” And that’s not even mentioning his powerhouse voice, which is sure to come in handy during Simba’s iconic musical numbers.

“He has a wonderful timbre to his voice both in singing and in performing. You could see that he’s just this creative beacon. He’s just one of those special creative forces.” Favreau felt that casting was his strong suit, which is why Disney led their announcements for the film with some of the best casting choices. “Casting is important, you’re sending messages to the fans. Our first announcement was Donald Glover and James Earl Jones and I think it kind of was a shorthand for ‘Yeah, we’re doing this.’”

Glover and Jones head up a stellar cast that’s sure to make fans cheer for the animals of Pride Rock. “Donald is very of this moment and creative and new and fresh,” Favreau gushed. “Having them together is a you know, one foot in the future, one foot in the past.”

Are you ready for Donald Glover’s take on everyone’s favorite lion cub? 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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