When The Lion King was first coming together, the story was not firmly cemented into its final amalgamation. Timon and Pumbaa, in fact, were written into the script after Ernie Sabella and Nathan Lane auditioned for the hyenas. And at one point, the creative team had the two actors record a version of "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" for the movie. If you are scratching your head and wondering what happened to that version, you aren't alone--it didn't make it into the final version of the movie. According to Ernie Sabella, who voices Pumbaa in various projects, including The Lion King and The Lion Guard, he and Lane recorded the song, but the idea was dumped after Sir Elton John revealed his reluctance to include the version. Sabella said,
Oh, we recorded the whole song. Yes. It didn't show up because Elton John said--and it's on film so I can say it--he said, 'I don't want a big, stinky warthog singing my love song!' I love it. Because, first of all, I'm not singing it anymore. We found out why. There's two reactions you want to get from an audience, or the composer: I love ya, or I hate ya. 'You're not singing my song,' you know? And I got 'em.
Speaking to CinemaBlend ahead of The Lion King's latest Blu-ray release, Ernie Sabella recounted how Elton John was not pleased Sabella and Nathan Lane recorded a version of "Can You Feel The Love Tonight." The song was composed as a love song. It eventually played during a scene with Simba and Nala spending time together after they reunited, but not until after various versions of the track were scrapped. The final version features an intro from Timon and Pumbaa before working into the song, with Kristle Edwards, Joseph Williams and Sally Dworsky on the song itself.
If you'd like to hear how the Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella version of the song would have turned out, you can catch a snippet of it, below. Elton John even expressed being "horrified" about the warthog singing his song.
Luckily, Ernie Sabella doesn't seem to be too stung about Elton John's general distaste for his version of the now-classic Disney song. In fact, he roaringly told a story about seeing Elton John after The Lion King was completed.
We're walking into one of the opening night parties, Cheryl--my wife--and I, and Elton John walks by. And she goes, 'That's Elton John.' And he looks at me and goes, 'Hi Ernie.' And she says, 'He called you Ernie.' I said, 'Yeah, he'll never forget me!'
With a rendition like that, it's unlikely we'll be forgetting anytime soon, either.
To nab your own copy of the Walt Disney Signature Collection Blu-ray of The Lion King, head to Disney's site. The new set will be out on August 29. Be sure to peruse the full list of extras, which include plenty of behind-the-scenes footage and more.