The Lion King Live Action Remake Has Cast A Luke Cage Star And More

Luke Cage's Alfre Woodard and The Lion King's Sarabi

More than two decades after The Lion King took the world by storm, Disney is giving the feature the remake treatment like most of its other animated classics. Following in the footsteps of last year's The Jungle Book, the new Lion King will use CGI to give this animal-filled tale the "live action" treatment, which was teased at the D23 expo last month. Since February, the remake has been slowly gathering its actors, and now the main cast is almost rounded out with the addition of two actors, starting with Luke Cage's Alfre Woodard.

According to THR, Alfre Woodard has been selected to play Sarabi, Simba's mom, in The Lion King. Madge Sinclair voiced the lioness in the 1994 animated movie. Woodard was seen last fall as Mariah Dillard, a.k.a. Black Mariah, on the Luke Cage TV series, who she'll reprise in Season 2. Her other recent credits include playing Aunt Josephine in A Series of Unfortunate Events (another Netflix original production), Professor Hughes in Burning Sands and President Constance Payton in State of Affairs.

Captain America: Civil War's John Kani and The Lion King's Rafiki

Following the news about Alfre Woodard, The Wrap reported that John Kani has been tapped to play Rafiki, the wise mandrill adviser of Pride Rock, in The Lion King. Kani briefly appeared in Captain America: Civil War last year as T'Chaka, the king of Wakanda. Kani will reprise the character in flashbacks for next February's Black Panther, and the actor's other work includes Silent Witness and Wallander. Rafiki was previously voiced by Robert Guillaume in the animated movie.

Alfre Woodard and John Kani join a cast that includes Donald Glover as Simba, Billy Eichner as Timon, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, John Oliver as Zazu and James Earl Jones reprising Mufasa. Chiwetel Ejiofor is also in talks to play Scar. Looking at this lineup, many of The Lion King's main characters are accounted for, but there are still a few key roles left to be cast. Beyonce was being eyed to voice Nala, but so far there's been no word about whether or not she's officially signed on. Then there's the question of who will voice Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, Scar's hyena goons.

Directed by The Jungle Book's Jon Favreau and written by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales' Jeff Nathanson, The Lion King opens in theaters on July 19, 2019. While we wait for more news on the remake, be sure to look through our guide of what other Disney movies are being released in the coming years.

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.