Among the many upcoming live action remakes of classic animated Disney movies is The Lion King, which took the world by storm in 1994 and remains a cinematic favorite more than two decades later. While it's not "live action" in the strictest sense, the new Lion King movie will follow in The Jungle Book's footsteps and treat audiences to realistic-looking CGI animals acting out a fantastic tale. The Lion King's cast is stacked with big entertainment names, and now we can add John Oliver to that group, as he'll portray Zazu.
Thanks to The Wrap, we've learned that John Oliver has been tapped to voice Zazu in The Lion King remake. Like his animated counterpart, the new Zazu will be a red-billed hornbill who serves as the "dignified and uptight" adviser to Mufasa and later Simba. Mr. Bean himself, Rowan Atkinson, originated the role in the '90s animated movie.
While John Oliver is best known in the realm of news satire for his work on The Daily Show and currently on Last Week Tonight, he's built a solid resume of voice work in recent years, including the first two Smurfs movies, The Simpsons, Bob's Burgers, Robot Chicken, Rick and Morty and the upcoming Amusement Park. Oliver is also known for recurring on Community as Ian Duncan. It will be a while before we see any footage of Oliver's Zazu in the new Lion King, but at least we can count on the comedian's dry wit to be properly channeled in the African setting. I'm especially eager to hear his reading of Zazu's lines in the "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" musical number.
Directed by Jon Favreau (who also helmed The Jungle Book remake) and written by Jeff Nathanson, The Lion King is expected to be a direct re-telling of the original Disney tale, akin to this year's Beauty and the Beast, rather than go in a radically different direction, like Maleficent and the Alice in Wonderland movies. Besides John Oliver, The Lion King cast includes Donald Glover as Simba, Billy Eichner as Timon, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa and James Earl Jones reprising Mufasa. Beyonce was also approached to voice Nala, but it hasn't been confirmed if she accepted the role. The Lion King has been in production since May, so hopefully in the coming weeks or months, we'll learn who will voice the remainder of the main characters, including Scar, Rafiki and the hyena trio. Perhaps this weekend's D23 convention will provide more updates if we're lucky.