Who voices which animal in The Lion King remake? The Lion King is one of Disney's most beloved movies, and that adoration is only going to increase still further with the release of the new "live-action" version, directed by Jon Favreau, this summer.
Favreau scored a huge hit with his remake of The Jungle Book in 2016; a photorealistic computer-animated version of the movie that refreshed the original animated version and made it more magical, exciting and entertaining than ever before. Favreau will no doubt be hoping for the same with The Lion King, which uses the same concepts as The Jungle Book did. That is to say, none of the animals in the movie are real, but they all look like the real deal.
The Lion King boasts stunning visuals, very realistic animals, and the same emotive story audiences all know and love. To truly do it all justice, though, Favreau has assembled an all-star voice cast for The Lion King. Here's which actor voices which animal.
Last Updated: July 18, 2019
Donald Glover as Simba
The main character of The Lion King, Simba is voiced by Donald Glover, who lives deep in the jungle with his friends Timon and Pumbaa, following the death of his father. He remains there, happy, until it becomes time for him to take his rightful place as king of Pride Rock and Nala finds him. Simba must overthrow Scar, his uncle, who had forced Simba into exile and now rules the pride lands with his pack of hyenas
Glover's career continues to rise at an astonishing rate. From starting out as a writer on 30 Rock, he created Atlanta and has turned alter-ego, Childish Gambino, into one of the biggest voices in music. As an actor, he's starred as Troy in Community, Miles Morales in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, Aaron Davis in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and played a young Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
James Earl Jones as Mufasa
"Remember who you are," is one of Disney's most iconic lines, as a down and defeated Simba looks up to the stars in search of his father, Mufasa. Voiced by the incomparable James Earl Jones, Mufasa really couldn't be played by anyone else. As such, Jones is the only original cast member to reprise his Lion King role. Mufasa is a shining light for young Simba, delivering deep and meaningful life lessons before his own life is cruelly snatched from him by Scar. Even after his death, Mufasa continues to advise his son about his place in the circle of life.
Jones is a well-respected character actor but is, of course, best known as the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars, as well as Mufasa.
Beyoncé Carter-Knowles as Nala
Beyoncé was Jon Favreau's top pick for the role of Nala, the lioness who is Simba's best friend through childhood and later on becomes his love interest, and it's fair to say her casting was The Lion King's biggest coup. While the role of adult Nala is not necessarily major, having Beyoncé voice her - as well as write songs for the movie - definitely is.
Undoubtedly one of the biggest musical superstars of all time, Beyoncé has sold over 100 million records as a solo artist, plus a further 60 million with Destiny's Child. Among her many accolades, Beyoncé has won 23 Grammy Awards and is the most nominated female artist in the award's history.
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar
Scar is one of the evilest Disney villains of all time, which therefore makes him one of the best. There's not much that beats fratricide when it comes to evil deeds, and throwing Mufasa from the top of a cliff as he begs for help is right up there as one of the most traumatic scenes in the Disney canon. Not only that. but Scar then lays the blame on his young nephew, prompting him to flee, and sets a pack of hyenas after the cub. With no one left to stand in his way, Scar takes over as king, with the awful hyenas by his side.
Originally voiced by Jeremy Irons, Scar is brought to life by Chiwetel Ejiofor in The Lion King 2019, a British actor best known for his performance in 12 Years A Slave, and for playing Mordo in Doctor Strange. As well as an impressive filmography, Ejiofor is a highly respected theater actor, and has played Othello three times.
Alfre Woodard as Sarabi
Simba's mother, Sarabi is so happy and proud of her young cub, and then she loses her mate and her son in one day. Under Scar's rule, she is treated badly and punished for not hunting enough, despite there being no animals left to hunt as he has destroyed the pride lands.
Sarabi is voiced by Alfre Woodard, who has appeared in (among others) Star Trek: First Contact, Desperate Housewives, 12 Years a Slave (with Chiwetel Ejiofor), A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Luke Cage.
JD McCray as Young Simba and Shahadi Wright Joseph as Young Nala
When The Lion King opens, both Simba and Nala are young cubs and therefore different actors are needed to voice them. JD McCray plays the young Simba. He is 12 years old, and currently stars in The Paynes on The Oprah Winfrey Network. Shahadi Wright Joseph voices Nala. She is 14 years old and best known for playing Zora Wilson/Umbrae in the Jordan Peele movie, Us.
Seth Rogen as Pumbaa
Pumbaa is a lovable, hapless warthog who picks up a nearly dead Simba in the desert. He isn't very smart, has a very bad gas problem, and likes to eat bugs, but he also has a heart of gold and would do anything for his friends. Pumbaa's moto is, of course, Hakuna Matata - no worries.
Pumbaa is one half of a comedy duo with the meerkat Timon, in The Lion King 2019 voiced by Seth Rogen. Rogen has a long list of comedic acting and voice-over accolades, especially his work with Judd Apatow and Evan Goldberg, including Knocked Up, Superbad, This Is The End, Sausage Party and Neighbors, as well as more serious turns in Steve Jobs and prior voiceover experience in Horton Hears a Who and the Kung-Fu Panda movies.
Billy Eichner as Timon
Pumbaa is nothing without Timon, and vise-versa. Timon is a wise-cracking meerkat who thinks he's smart, but it's often Pumbaa who's cleverer. They've been living in the jungle together for a long time before they find Simba, and both serve as surrogate parents, raising Simba to adulthood.
Billy Eichner was cast at the same time as Rogen, and the pair have actually worked together before on Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. He has also appeared in the American Horror Story anthology series, and Parks and Recreation, and is the host of Billy on the Street.
John Oliver as Zazu
Zazu is a hornbill who serves as Mufasa's majordomo. Part of his role also involves him reluctantly having to babysit the young Simba and Nala. He's begrudgingly fond of them, though, and overjoyed when Simba returns.
Zazu is voiced by John Oliver, of course best known for his news satire show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which he has hosted since 2014.
John Kani as Rafiki
Rafiki is a wise Mandril and not, as it is said in the original version of The Lion King, a baboon; in the animated version of the movie, Rafiki has a tail, when in fact Mandrills do not. Rafiki is Mufasa's advisor, and is the one to present the newborn Simba to the animal kingdom.
John Kani is a South African actor, playwright and director, well known for his stage work and as T'Chaka in Black Panther.
Keegan Michael-Key as Kamari, Eric Andre as Azizi, and Florence Kasumba as Shenzi
Of the many hyenas who follow Scar in The Lion King 2019, only Shenzi is a character from the original movie; Kamari and Azizi are newer versions of Banzai and Ed, with an entirely different comedy dynamic.
Florence Kasumba is known for playing Ayo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Eric Andre plays Mike in the FXX series, Man Seeking Woman, while Keegan Michael-Key is best known as one half of the comedy sketch duo, Key and Peele, as well as appearing in many shows such as Parks and Recreation, Whose Line is it Anyway, and Fargo.
- The Lion King (2019) release date: Jul 19, 2019