Why The Lion King Brought Back James Earl Jones as Mufasa

Mufasa and Simba in The Lion King 2019

Director Jon Favreau reveals why it was so important to bring James Earl Jones back as Mufasa for The Lion King. As Disney continues to churn through their classic animated movies and remake them in live-action, they've started to tackle some of their most beloved ones. This is certainly true of 1994's The Lion King, which has stood the test of time thanks to the emotional story and iconic songs.

Disney's approach for these remakes has been to heavily play into the nostalgia, and make changes and additions to the story and characters when necessary. Based on the marketing to this point, The Lion King looks incredibly similar to the original film, and it even sounds like it too. Hans Zimmer is back to score the film, and amid a brand new, big-name cast, it's James Earl Jones who's the lone holdover. He's set to reprise his role as Mufasa, and Favreau is incredibly excited to have him do so.

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Related: Jon Favreau Wanted To Emphasize The Lion King's Circle of Life

In a new interview with Empire, Favreau was asked why it was important for him and The Lion King to bring Jones back in his recognizable voice role. He mentioned that his inclusion in the new movie is about "carrying the legacy across" the two versions, and that listening to him record has been "really moving and surreal" for him. While audiences may think they know what Jones' Mufasa will be like, Favreau went on to explain how Jones is bringing something new to the familiar part.

The timbre of his voice has changed. That served the role well because he sounds like a king who’s ruled for a long time.

Mufasa from The Lion King

James Earl Jones was in his early 60s when the animated version of The Lion King hit theaters, and he had no trouble effectively playing the ruler and leader of Pride Rock. He's now in his late 80s though, so the experience and longevity he's had come through even more now when he speaks. With Jones returning and Favreau excited with how he sounds now, it won't be surprising if Mufasa receives a slightly larger role in the live-action/CGI The Lion King.

Favreau's praise for Jones is the latest example of him showering the voice cast with compliments. He recently said that the film's strong suit is the incredible voice cast, which features Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, Keegan Michael Key, and many more. Favreau specifically made mention of the fresh energy that Glover brings to adult Simba, but we've yet to hear a snippet of him. Instead, it's been Jones' legendary voice that has been featured in most of The Lion King's marketing, giving us a chance to hear this older version of Mufasa that Favreau likes.

MORE: How The Lion King Blends Live-Action & 3D Animation

Source: Empire

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