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The Lion King animated classic we know and love features a storyline with nods to Hamlet after Simba runs away following his father's death at the hands of Scar. But if The Lion King's creative team had stuck with its original draft, Simba would never have run away to live the good life with Timon and Pumbaa. Instead, he would have been raised by Scar. On the upcoming The Lion King Signature Collection Blu-ray, producer Tom Schumacher explained to Matthew Broderick what initially was going to happen, noting,
The whole idea was that Simba didn't run off with Timon and Pumbaa. Scar was going to kill Simba the same time he kills Mufasa. He's holding Simba in his mouth, and he's about to break his neck. Everyone comes in and says, 'Oh my gosh, you saved him from the stampede!' And the idea was you [talking to Matthew Broderick] were gonna grow up with Scar and be the goof-off kid. And so it was all supposed to be this throw-off kind of Ferris Bueller, delightful scamp. And so we cast you as that and you became this heroic lead.
Tom Schumacher was on The Lion King since nearly the very beginning when it was still rolling with the title The King of the Jungle, and was, as Schumacher describes, a story where Scar was a baboon and it was all about lions and baboons. A lot of things clearly changed as the Disney film was moving forward, but after it became clear that Scar was not going to (poorly) parent Simba after killing Mufasa, the movie was still able to retain Matthew Broderick for the role.
In the interview, which is part of the special feature "Nathan and Matthew: The Extended Lion King Conversation," Matthew Broderick admits he has no recollection of the alternative storyline, telling Schumacher (and Nathan Lane, who is also present) that he thought the role was supposed to always be based on a Shakespeare classic.
I remember when I started they were saying, 'Mostly based on Hamlet.'... I know I was playing Hamlet.
Although Hamlet does come into play thanks to Simba recalling his father's ghost in the sky, that wasn't the original intention of the team creating The Lion King. The creative team just wanted an actor they knew could play a fun and free-spirited character in the movie... and they'd all seen Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Once the new plot was finalized, there was clearly still plenty of room for Broderick to play the adult version of Simba, and the rest is history.
Disney has been creating new signature releases for a while, and the Lion King Signature Collection is going to be out on Digital and Disney Movies Anywhere starting on August 15. The flick will then return to Blu-ray and DVD with the Signature Collection edition on August 29. Here's what else is coming up in Home Entertainment during the month of August.