We’ve all seen the picture by now. A flawless, star-studded photo made its rounds through social media yesterday, announcing the cast of Disney’s live-action remake of The Lion King. Although Disney leaked a couple of the stars prior to this, the rumors of Beyoncé as Nala proved to be true, and so did the film’s speculated release timeframe: summer 2019.
And while everyone was fanatically obsessed with Beyoncé as Nala (rightfully so), I’ve been thinking about what the rest the movie will actually be like. The lineup is completely amazing, beyond Beyoncé. I mean, just look at the photo! It’s riddled with so many celebrities I can barely stop looking at it.
This film will be the best thing to happen in 2019.
Let’s just start with Donald Glover. Just imagine the rapper/actor/writer’s smooth voice (yes, the one on “Redbone”) going through Simba’s adolescent feelings phase and saving Timon and Pumbaa from angsty Nala before eventually running the kingdom. You must listen to all of Awaken, My Love! to fully understand how great Glover is going to be.
And then of course, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as Nala. The badass lioness/future Queen of the Kingdom. I hope she uses the same deep voice that she does in “Haunted” or “Mine (feat. Drake).” Mainly because she literally says, “No rest in the kingdom” on “Mine” and it just screams Nala.
James Earl Jones as Mufasa is possibly the most perfect choice of this entire casting. Why? Because he’s the voice of Mufasa in the original Lion King. And he also voiced Darth Vader in the original Star Wars. Talk about duality.
And then, Scar. Chiwetel Ejiofor could not be better for this. He's been nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Actor for over 10 years, and a slew of others. For example, remember his range in 12 Years a Slave? How could one forget? He goes from deep whispers to angry jolting screams in seconds, just like Scar.
Alfre Woodard as Sarabi. Wow. Another 12 Years a Slave cast member who's been winning awards for almost 20 years and acting for almost 40. I am imagining her performance to be similar to her Desperate Housewives role—snarky yet soothing.
John Oliver might be the funniest member of this cast (which is saying a lot because of all the other comedians on the list). Zazu is the prim and proper nervous wreck hornbill that serves as the king’s majordomo. Oliver is perfect for this, as he has the humorous side, while also having that shrill voice that slants towards the panicky side of Zazu.
To be honest, I had to Google John Kani. However, I feel pretty dumb for having to do that after the results. Along with acting, he's a director and the playwright of The Island and Sizwe Banzi Is Dead, meaning he has an excellent way with words, and since he’s basically the narrator in this film, he will be perfect.
And then, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa. He’s going to give John Oliver a run for his money. Just imagine Rogen voicing Pumbaa during the hot tub farting scene. I’m envisioning Rogen winning his first Oscar for playing a farting warthog in 2020. Same goes for Billy Eichner as Timon. "Hakuna Matata" will never be the same.
Don’t forget about the bottom row. Eric André, Florence Kasumba, and Keegan-Michael Key are arguably the most important characters in this list because they have the largest roles to fill as the hyenas. They have to live up to Whoopi Goldberg’s laugh, which might be the hardest task of the entire film. Goldberg’s cackle is iconic and impossible to imitate.
However, I did find a video of Key laughing and I think he has a lot of potential. So does Eric André. They both have those scream-laughs. I haven't found any evidence of Kasumba's laugh yet, but she has the sultry and stealthy demeanor down.
Rounding out the list are young Simba and Nala, played by JD McCrary and Shahadi Wright Joesph, respectively. Both of whom I have never heard of, but am excited to watch their Hollywood glow-ups over the next ten years after this film is released.