How The Animated Lion King’s Legacy Is Affecting The Live-Action Remake's Casting

The Lion King

Following the critical and commercial success of The Jungle Book earlier this year, Disney has made sure to keep Jon Favreau around for more of their creature features. Along with returning to direct The Jungle Book 2, it was announced that he'll also helm the live action-looking remake of The Lion King. Considering how iconic the original 1994 movie was, this remake certainly has a lot riding on it to be exceptional, but Favreau is making sure that in the midst of planning The Lion King, they're keeping in mind the actors from the predecessor when it comes to the voice roles and how memorable they were to a generation.

Our own Sean O'Connell recently sat down with Jon Favreau to talk about the work that's already being being done on the new version of The Lion King, and casually inquired whether or not Favreau had gotten James Earl Jones back to voice Mufasa in the same way the actor was brought back to voice Darth Vader in Rogue One. It doesn't sound like that's the case, although Favreau did compliment Jones on how he's "defined" the Vader role. Regardless, with The Lion King, the crew isn't forgetting about how the actors defined those original roles over two decades ago either. Favreau stated:

So, you know, we're just getting into the technical aspects of the movie. We haven't done any casting yet, but there's, you know, definitely the cast of the original really defined those characters in the mind of the audience who loves it. So, we're definitely, you know, taking into consideration what was done before.

The Lion King is arguably the most successful movie from the Disney Renaissance that lasted from 1989 to 1999, so looking back to it for this re-telling and keeping the original cast in mind is definitely a wise move. Part of me even wishes Jon Favreau would bring back James Earl Jones and Jeremy Irons to voice Mufasa and Scar, respectively, though I'm more interested to see other actors take on those characters for something different.

Speaking of which, hopefully the Favreau and the gang won't keep themselves completely beholden to the original movie, as there may be ways to actually improve upon certain roles. For example, Christopher Walken's King Louie in The Jungle Book didn't sound anything like Louis Prima's from the 1967 animated movie, but he still put a unique spin on the giant ape. Maybe The Lion King can pull off something similar.

Along with Jon Favreau directing, Jeff Nathanson is writing The Lion King, and the new version will contain songs from the original feature. While the remake doesn't have a release date attached, Disney is reportedly fast-tracking the project, and The Jungle Book visual effects supervisor Robert Legato said he would be working with Jon Favreau on it next. So it stands to reason The Lion King will arrive in theaters sooner rather than later, but we'll keep you updated on its progress as more details come in.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.