The Lion King's dynamic duo of Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) stole the show for many captivated viewers this week. With updated jokes and improvised riffs that will soon become brand-new classics, they took Hakuna Matata to the next level. The established comedians shared a little about their recording experience with Screen Rant, as well as divulging which scene had them the most worried.
Pumbaa and Timon really hit it for me to get this Lion King together, and you guys nailed it. Knocked it out of the park; amazing job. How much improv were you guys able to do during this process?
Seth Rogen: A lot.
Billy Eichner: Quite a bit, and it was kind of surprising. Jon Favreau really encouraged us to improvise and a lot of it ended up in the movie, which is wild for a movie that’s not a traditional live-action movie. Which is pretty cool. I think you can tell; you can feel that we’re in the same room together, and that we’re really listening to each other and responding in real time. I think that really helped us establish our own chemistry.
Seth Rogen: 100%. I think, narratively, we also had a deep understanding of the role we were to serve in the film in the broader sense. We really knew that we had to come in with a lot of energy and a very easily understandable comedic dynamic that you were able to latch onto instantaneously, almost. So it was nice. Jon really let us find it, and it was very encouraging for us to try different things. I’m amazed at how much of it he used.
You guys have both done animated voice work before. What’s the difference between that process and the process you guys experienced on The Lion King? I’m sure this was a long time ago, as well, right?
Billy Eichner: Yeah, we kind of went in and out of the studio over the course of a year and a half.
Seth Rogen: Year and a half, two years, yup.
Billy Eichner: Something like that. But most of the other voiceover jobs I’ve done – he’s done more than I have, but when I’ve done Bob’s Burgers or something like that, it’s very fun. It’s a much more traditional experience. You’re standing at a music stand, the other actors actually aren’t there, you’re reading your lines. You read each line, like, 4 times in a row and then you move on. This was very different than that.
Seth Rogen: Yeah, it was. Just getting to work with people in real life was also probably rewarding in its own ways, just because of how hard we were making ourselves left with how ridiculous and crazy it was. But this was a different type of thing, obviously. Overall, just how naturalistic it felt, I was really thrilled about. And it felt really unique for a movie like this, and unlike… Sausage Party was a whole other thing, and that wasn’t what we were focused on at all. So to be able to do a new type of humor, it felt, in an animated movie was nice.
Pumbaa and Timon have so many classic lines and classic scenes. What was the most intimidating to approach for you guys as actors?
Seth Rogen: I think “Hakuna Matata.”
Billy Eichner: I guess “Hakuna Matata,” because it’s their big number.
Seth Rogen: Ironically, we were most worried about that.
Billy Eichner: We were terrified. But once we got into it, you have to take that pressure off yourself and just be together and try things and try jokes. And again, Jon Favreau and Hans Zimmer were really incredible at creating an environment that we could feel free to try things. If they worked, they worked; and if they didn’t, they didn’t. I think it worked ultimately in the movie.
- The Lion King (2019) release date: Jul 19, 2019